Morning business round-up: Eurozone fears loom

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

European Union officials are preparing for a key summit in Brussels, where they will be trying to clinch a deal on how to tackle the eurozone debt crisis.

The talks have been described by analysts as "do-or-die" for the 17 eurozone nations.

Germany and France are pushing for new EU treaties, saying stricter fiscal rules should be enshrined there.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank has cut interest rates amid fears the eurozone is in recession, while ratings agency Standard & Poor's has said it will review the top AAA credit rating of the European Union for possible downgrade.

At the same time, central banks in New Zealand and South Korea have kept interest rates on hold, citing fears of the impact of the debt crisis in Europe.

Despite the uncertain climate, European stock markets made modest gains in morning trading.

In company news, Chinese antitrust regulators have approved Nestle's $1.7bn offer for sweets and snack maker Hsu Fu Chi International.

The Swiss food firm made the offer for a 60% stake in the Singapore-listed Hsu Fu Chi in July.

The approval comes a month after the ministry of commerce cleared Yum Brand's takeover of Little Sheep Group.

And luxury fashion group Mulberry has trebled its half-year profits thanks to strong retail sales.

The leather goods maker said that pre-tax profits rose to £15.6m ($24.5m) in the six months to September, up from £4.7m in the same period last year.

In early trading, shares in Mulberry jumped 2.5% to £15.31.

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But it was a more mixed picture for the UK's largest retailer, Tesco.

Sales at Tesco's UK stores have fallen in recent weeks as consumers reined back spending, taking the shine off a stronger performance at overseas outlets.

Like-for-like UK sales, excluding fuel and VAT, were down 0.9% in the 13 weeks to 26 November, the company said in a trading update.

Total group sales rose 5.4%, excluding fuel, despite trading problems in Asia.

In other UK news, the Office of Fair Trading has said it is minded to refer the UK's £5bn ($7.85bn) private healthcare sector to the Competition Commission.

In a provisional report, the OFT said it had found issues that could "prevent, restrict or distort competition" in the market.

Private patients do not have "access to easily comparable information on quality and costs", the OFT said.

The OFT will make a final ruling next year after further consultation.

The latest edition of the Business Daily programme comes from Berlin, where our correspondent Stephen Evans examines whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel can pull Europe on to a sensible path and save the world economy.

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