Morning business round-up: China's economy loses steam

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

China's economy has grown at its slowest pace in three years as investment slowed and demand fell in key markets such as the US and Europe.

Gross domestic product rose by 7.6% in the second quarter, compared with the same period a year ago. That is down from 8.1% in the previous three months.

In March, Beijing cut its growth target for the whole of 2012 to 7.5%.

China accounts for about a fifth of the world's total economic output and any slowdown may hamper a global recovery.

Now, questions are rising over who will now drive a global recovery and whether China will engineer a hard or soft landing.

Two billionaire property developers in Hong Kong have been charged with bribery-related offences in a high-profile corruption case.

Thomas and Raymond Kwok are currently in court where charges are being read.

Authorities allege they gave bribes in exchange for information on land sales between 2005 and 2007. The brothers have previously denied the allegations.

The Kwok brothers head Sun Hung Kai Properties, Asia's most valuable real estate company.

In the UK, a multi-billion pound scheme designed to make more - and cheaper - loans and mortgages available to businesses and individuals has been outlined.

The scheme, called Funding for Lending, will see the Bank of England make low-cost funds available to banks and building societies.

They will initially be able to borrow the equivalent of 5% of the amount they currently lend. But if they increase their lending, they will be able to borrow more.

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Output from the UK construction sector fell 6.3% in May compared with a year earlier, official figures show.

Between March and May, a more robust reading, the drop was steeper, down 7.4% from the same period in 2011, the Office for National Statistics said.

The main driver was the fall in new public works, which fell by about 22%, reflecting the impact of government spending cuts.

Moody's has cut Italy's credit rating, warning that the country was likely to see a sharp rise in borrowing costs.

The rating was cut two notches to Baa2 from A3, two levels above junk status.

The move raised concerns of a contagion risk from Spain and Greece, pushed Italian bank shares down and kept the euro near two-year lows against the dollar.

Germany says it will help Spain to launch German-style apprenticeships for its young people, half of whom are unemployed because of the debt crisis.

Spain's Education Minister, Jose Ignacio Wert, signed an agreement with his German counterpart in Stuttgart on Thursday, to give more Spaniards on-the-job training with German firms. Spain's youth unemployment has soared to 52% - the highest rate in the EU.

A BBC investigation suggests companies are wasting large sums of money on adverts to gain "likes" from Facebook members who have no real interest in their products.

It also appears many account holders who click on the links have lied about their personal details.

A security expert has said some of the profiles appeared to be "fakes" run by computer programs to spread spam.

Facebook said it had "not seen evidence of a significant problem".

In our latest Business Daily podcast, we ask: has talk of the coming Chinese Century been premature?

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