Morning business round-up: Chavez leaves economic muddle

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

"Venezuela is the fifth largest economy in Latin America, but during the last decade, it's been the worst performer in GDP per capita growth," said one analyst at the Center for International Development at Harvard University.

And US tech giant Microsoft has been fined 561m euros ($731m; £484m) for failing to promote a range of web browsers, rather than just Internet Explorer, to users in the European Union.

It introduced a Browser Choice Screen pop-up in March 2010, but dropped the feature in a Windows 7 update in February 2011.

Equity markets in Asia, the US and Europe have been buoyed by central bank attempts to revive economic growth by pumping cash into the financial system.

Sharp has been trying to restructure its operations amid mounting losses.

Toyota appointed Mark Hogan, a former executive at rival General Motors, to its board, the first outsider in the company's 76-year history to be named to the board.

He said the arguments for restructuring RBS "sooner rather than later are powerful ones".

This contrasts with a slump in European vehicle sales, which fell 8.2% in 2012.

And the UK housing market is continuing to show signs of improvement, according to the latest survey from the Halifax bank.

For an in-depth examination of the business issues behind the headlines, listen to the latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service. Today, the programme looks at fears of a financial crisis in healthcare as the world's population grows older, and in many cases fatter.

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