Business

Morning business round-up: Race to lead the World Bank

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

Market Data

Last Updated at 19:34 GMT

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A group of former World Bank officials have written a letter backing Nigeria's Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be its next president.

Traditionally the post is given to the candidate put forward by the US, which this time is Dr Jim Yong Kim.

But in an open letter, 39 former economists and managers said the Bank should choose the next chief on merit.

In Asian news, shares across the region declined due to fresh fears over the health of the US and European economies.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 1% and Australia's ASX 200 lost 0.3%.

It followed after European and US shares closed lower on Wednesday, only for European shares to recover some ground in Thursday trading.

Also in Asia, Japan's government is set to force through its 2012 budget, after it was stalled by a political battle over plans to double the national sales tax.

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The lower house of parliament approved the budget earlier this month.

But the upper house failed to pass it on Thursday because of intense opposition.

The budget is worth 90.3tn yen ($1.1tn; £689bn), while another 3.7tn yen is set aside for rebuilding from last year's earthquake.

In China, the online news portal of People's Daily, the newspaper of the country's ruling Communist Party, has launched an initial public offering (IPO) of its shares in Shanghai.

It is aiming to raise 527m yuan ($84m; £53m) to upgrade its technology and strengthen its operations.

The IPO comes as the paper faces increasing competition from private rivals such as Sina Corp and Sohu.

China is the world's largest internet market.

In European news, UK manufacturing output fell by 1% in February, suffering its biggest monthly fall for 10 months.

Factory output was also down 1.4% compared with a year ago, the Office for National Statistics said.

Economists had forecast a 0.1% rise for both the month and year, but some have questioned the official data.

In Greece, the government extended the deadline for its latest debt swap plan for a second time.

The move affects holders of 28.5bn euros ($37.4bn; £23.6bn) of Greek government bonds.

Athens says it will now accept a take-up rate of 72%, or 20.3bn euros' worth of the debt, on 11 April.

Greece is using bond swaps to reduce its debt, with bondholders being asked to accept new bonds that offer lower returns over a longer period.

You can examine the big issues facing the global economy in the latest edition of our Business Daily programme.

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