Morning business round-up: Cyprus bailout rocks markets

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European markets have followed Asian shares downward on fears that the EU plan to bail out Cyprus could trigger an escalation of the eurozone debt crisis.

The EU and IMF want all bank customers to pay a levy in return for a bailout worth 10bn euros ($13bn; £8.6bn).

London's 100-share index is 1% lower, while Spain and Italy are down 2%.

The euro was also affected. Against both the pound and the dollar, it lost about 1%, leaving it at 85.7p and $1.293 respectively.

Earlier, Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 2.7%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Australia's ASX 200 dipped 2%.

In Cyprus itself, parliament is due to hold an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss the bailout, which has angered the public.

President Nicos Anastasiades' Democratic Rally party has 20 seats in the 56-member assembly and needs other parties' support to ratify the deal.

BBC business editor Robert Peston says the Cypriot bailout throws away all the rules painfully negotiated since 2007-08 on how to bring order to banking systems in a crisis.

In Asian news, new home prices rose in 66 of China's 70 major cities in February, underlining the challenge its new leaders face in controlling the sector.

Keeping property prices in check has been a key agenda for Beijing, not least due to fears of asset bubbles.

Earlier this month, China unveiled fresh measures, including higher down payment requirements, to try and curb speculation in the sector.

However, there are fears that excessive tightening may hurt economic growth.

In the UK, pressure is growing on Chancellor George Osborne to announce measures aimed at boosting growth when he delivers the country's annual Budget on Wednesday.

Two lobby groups, the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the Item Club, have urged him to increase infrastructure spending.

The IoD, which represents 35,000 business leaders, says it "strongly" backs the government's deficit reduction programme.

It says this can be strengthened by changes in infrastructure spending.

A separate report from the Item Club also calls for an increase in spending on such projects as roads and schools.

The economic forecasting group says that Wednesday's Budget will contain bad news, with a downgrade to growth expected, as well as higher borrowing than planned.

The latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service asks: Is there a new gold cliff about to appear on the financial horizon? The programme explores the prospects for the hard shiny stuff.

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