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Brazil posts second straight trade deficit in February

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil recorded its largest February trade deficit ever, deepening a trade gap this year that underscores the uncompetitiveness of local industry and a voracious appetite for imports. The commodities powerhouse posted a trade deficit of $2.125 billion in February, the trade ministry said on Thursday, its second straight monthly shortfall.

Fed should proceed with bond-buying taper, Lockhart says

(Reuters) - The Federal Reserve should continue to pare its massive bond-buying program even if a key jobs report due out on Friday falls short of expectations, a top Fed official said on Thursday. "In my mind, unless we really fall off track in the economy pretty dramatically, I think the tapering program should proceed," Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart told Reuters in an interview, adding that he has "modest" expectations for the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report.

Service sectors strengthen globally, but slow in U.S

By Ryan Vlastelica NEW YORK (Reuters) - Service sectors around the globe mostly strengthened last month with Germany leading the way, although harsh winter weather put a damper on the massive U.S. non-manufacturing sector. The news of global services expansion came in contrast to recent reads on manufacturing growth, which indicated a rebound in the U.S. while Europe and Asia eased.

Weather restrains U.S. private hiring, services sector growth

By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. private employers added fewer workers than expected in February and services sector growth hit a four-year low, the latest signs of the economic toll severe weather is taking. Economists were little fazed by Wednesday's downbeat reports. They said the economy's fundamentals were still sound, and that a string of mostly weak data would not be enough to dissuade the Federal Reserve from continuing to dial back its monetary stimulus.

EU removes Spain from list of countries with excessive imbalances

Brussels, Mar 5 (EFE).- The European Commission on Wednesday removed Spain from its list of countries with excessive macroeconomic imbalances, saying the Iberian nation had made significant progress in addressing its economic challenges. The European Union's executive arm said Spain's imbalances would continue to abate over time, but warned that "risks are still present" and that Madrid requires specific monitoring and must take "decisive policy action."

EU removes Spain from list of countries with excessive imbalances

Brussels, Mar 5 (EFE).- The European Commission on Wednesday removed Spain from its list of countries with excessive macroeconomic imbalances, saying the Iberian nation had made significant progress in addressing its economic challenges. The European Union's executive arm said Spain's imbalances would continue to abate over time, but warned that "risks are still present" and that Madrid requires specific monitoring and must take "decisive policy action."

U.S. services growth dips in Feb: Market

By David Gaffen (Reuters) - Growth and the pace of hiring in the U.S. services sector slowed in February, an industry report showed on Wednesday, though industry executives said unusually bad weather was in part to blame for disruptions in economic activity. Financial data firm Markit said its final service sector purchasing managers' index dipped to 53.3 in February from 56.7 in January. A reading above 50 signals economic expansion, and the result was better than Markit's preliminary "flash" reading of 52.7 released last week.

Instant View: China aims for 7.5 percent economic growth in 2014

(Reuters) - China will maintain its economic growth target for 2014 at about 7.5 percent, as expected, signaling that its policy focus would be slanted in favor of reforms and rebalancing the economy. Premier Li Keqiang, in a report to the National People's Congress at the start of its annual session on Wednesday, also said military spending will increase by 12.2 percent. Key points - 2014 growth target set at about 7.5 percent - China to make domestic demand main growth engine

US manufacturing activity picks up in February

US manufacturing activity picked up in February after slowing in January amid severe winter weather, the Institute for Supply Management said Monday. The ISM's purchasing managers index rose to 53.2 February, rebounding from a sharp fall in January to 51.3, a level not far above the 50 reading between expansion and contraction. The gain was stronger than analysts' consensus estimate of a 51.6 reading.

U.S. small businesses notch year-on-year increase in borrowing

(Reuters) - U.S. small businesses borrowed more money in January than they did a year earlier, signaling continued growth in the economy despite a spate of cold weather that has been blamed for weakness in many other indicators of activity.
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