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Morning business round-up: Portugal asks for bail-out

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

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Portugal's request late on Wednesday for a bail-out and the prospect of a rise in interest rates for the eurozone as a whole were the main market topics on Thursday.

Portugal's plea for help from the European Union - the third country in the 17-strong eurozone to do so - came just hours after it successfully raised funds on the free market - albeit at a very high interest rate.

Its situation is expected to be discussed when EU finance ministers meet later in Budapest.

The Japan's economy is another one under a cloud. The Bank of Japan said it was under "strong downward pressure" due to the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami which lost production and disrupted supply chains.

The central bank kept its monetary policy unchanged leaving the interest rates in the range of zero to 0.1%.

The continuing high price of oil has forced China to increase the retail price of gasoline and diesel to record highs.

The increase will be 5-5.5%, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

The move is aimed at easing pressure on state refiners who are struggling with international oil prices at two-and-a-half-year highs.

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In the UK, economic woes were weighing on two leading domestic retailers who cut profits estimates

Halfords and Carpetright both issued profit warnings as UK consumer spending remains tight.

The car and bike specialist Halfords cut its 2011 estimate for profits before tax to £124m-£127m, down from guidance of more than £127m given in January.

Meanwhile Carpetright said that profits for the financial year that ends this month would be down on a year earlier.

To hear about some of the wider trends in the world of business, click through to our Business Daily podcast which today asks whether Portugal's debt is really the problem or is the underlying issue the feeble growth and lack of competitiveness.

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