Morning business round-up: Fears of 'currency wars'

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

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France is set to voice concerns about the strength of the euro at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers later.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici is worried that the rising single currency is making the country's goods less competitive.

The euro has risen by 6% against a basket of other currencies in the past six months, but with other countries also wanting to weaken their exchange rates, there are renewed fears of "currency wars".

Last week, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi was deemed to be trying to talk down the euro at his press conference following the bank's latest rate decision.

This appeared to have some effect, with the euro dropping sharply. However, on Monday morning the euro rebounded, jumping more than 1% against both the yen and the pound.

The euro was up 1.1% at 125.30 yen, while against the pound it rose 1% to 85.41 pence.

Barclays misled shareholders and the public about one of the biggest investments in the bank's history, an investigation by the BBC Panorama programme has found.

The bank announced in 2008 that Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour had agreed to invest more than £3bn.

But the BBC found that the money, which helped Barclays avoid a bailout by British taxpayers, actually came from the Abu Dhabi government.

Barclays said the mistake in its accounts was "a drafting error".

French ministers are to hold talks with key players in the meat industry as the horsemeat scandal widens to up to 16 countries.

Seven French supermarket chains have withdrawn frozen beef meals made by Findus and Comigel.

The move followed the discovery that foods sold in Europe labelled as beef contained horsemeat.

The scandal has raised questions about the complexity of the food industry's supply chains across the EU, and it has already had an impact on distributors in the UK, France, Sweden, Ireland and Romania.

It is feared that food products in a further 11 EU countries may be affected.

Technology giants Apple, Microsoft and Adobe have been called by the Australian parliament to appear before a committee looking at pricing levels.

The House of Representatives launched an investigation in July last year to see if some goods were more expensive in Australia than in other parts of the world.

Consumer bodies have often complained that Australians are overcharged.

The firms have previously made written submissions to the committee, but have so far declined to appear in person. They are now scheduled to appear before the committee on 22 March.

Staying in Australia, figures have shown that home-loan approvals in the country have fallen for a third month, despite the central bank cutting its main interest rates.

Approvals fell 1.5% in December from November.

Australia's central bank cut interest rates four times in 2012 in an attempt to boost investment and growth in non-mining sectors such as construction.

However, analysts said many mortgage lenders had not passed on the lower borrowing costs, while consumers feared that rates may climb again.

In the UK, confidence among businesses hit its lowest level in at least 21 years last month, a survey has suggested.

Accountancy firm BDO, which published the survey, says its findings indicate that the economy will struggle to grow in the first quarter of this year.

That is despite signs of improvement in the labour market, it says, with firms intending to hire more staff.

On the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service, Uganda's central bank governor speaks of his frustration with the banks who refuse to lower their high interest rates. The programme also looks at debt problems in Uganda, and the scourge of inflation - how it affects ordinary people.

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