Brief world markets headlines of the day.

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India's Singh calls for rapid action to revive investor spirits

With the finance minister's portfolio now his, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for quick action to revive investors' spirits and dispel gloom that has settled over the country's economy. "In the short run, we need to revive investor sentiment, both domestic and international," Singh said, citing among other things a drag on the economy from tax issues. Meanwhile, Indian economists disputed Fitch's recent assessment that India had entered a period of stagflation. 

U.S. durable-goods orders, home sales provide a plus for economy

Positive figures for pending homes sales and for durable-goods orders in May helped allay some concerns that the U.S. economy is bound for recession. Orders of durables were up 1.1% for the first gain since February, and the home-sales figure was up 5.9%, reversing a 5.5% dip in April. "The economy is growing, but it's still muddling through," said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. 

Spain's central bank sees a deeper recession

Job destruction is accelerating, and sentiment among consumers and businesses is ebbing as Spain slides further into recession in the second quarter, the nation's central bank says. In particular, the Bank of Spain cited external tensions over the eurozone as a weight on domestic markets over the past few weeks.

World GDP grows in 1st quarter, but warning signs emerge

The Economist's latest measure of world GDP showed 2.9% growth in the first quarter, but not without some worrying signs that included a narrow contraction in the eurozone. Of greater significance was slower growth in the BRIC countries.

Market Activities

Strong numbers for durable-goods orders and the housing market allayed investor fears of a further slackening in the U.S. economy and helped boost the S&P 500 by 0.9%. The U.S. numbers lifted European shares as well, which generally saw their biggest gains in a week as investors also looked to China for added economic stimulus there. Here is a continuously updated list of global stock indices. 

Economic Trends & Outlook

Australia projects record resource exports despite commodity slump

Australia's resource exports are expected to reach a record $209 billion in the coming year despite falling commodity prices. The forecast from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics is unchanged and based on projections of increased production. The assessment comes after a steep slide in mining shares over the past few months.

Current Taiwan indicator points down as leading indicator points up

For the seventh month in a row, Taiwan's composite indicators signaled the economy is under stress, the Council for Economic Planning and Development said. However, an index of leading indicators was positive for the ninth month running, suggesting "the economy may be gradually moving away from the current sluggish sentiment in the near future," said Hung Jui-bin, director general of the council's economic research department.

Key tax-raising bill, reforms win in Japan's lower house

A doubling of Japan's consumption tax and social security reform won approval in the lower house of parliament, but at the risk of splitting the country's ruling party. The reform package, a set of eight bills, now goes to the upper house, where passage is expected in August. Ichiro Ozawa, an influential member of the Democratic Party of Japan, strongly opposed the measures, and there was speculation that he might lead a dissident faction to form a new party.

South Korean exports are curbed by trucker strike

South Korean exports have been greatly curtailed as a strike of truck drivers that began Monday extended into Wednesday. Container traffic at the nation's biggest port, Busan, has been cut more than half as truckers demand lower fuel costs and increased fees.

Chinese provinces, Beijing engage in back-and-forth on housing policy

Another Chinese province, Henan, has abruptly changed its housing policy in a pattern seen before as regions strapped for growth try to get around Beijing's 2-year-old campaign to cool the property market. Henan's original move to offer preferential lending rates for first-time buyers may also have been prompted by Beijing's recent tolerance of such departures from national policy in light of China's slowing economic growth.

Capital Markets & Financial Products
Leading fund manager sees more of the same for China's economy

China's government is likely to walk a fine line in coming months with policy designed to keep the economy from cooling further but not robust enough to stimulate growth, says Yu Guang of Invesco Great Wall. Yu, the country's best-performing fund manager, said China's economy "will remain in the doldrums for a while, in line with the trend of the global economy. It's difficult to see either a big decline or a big rally." 

Glencore faces late demand from Qatar over Xstrata bid

Glencore, a commodities trader with major interests in the Asia-Pacific region, delayed its bid for Xstrata as Qatar made a late push for better terms in the proposed $26 billion deal. The Qatar Investment Authority, Xstrata's second-largest shareholder, now demands 3.25 new Glencore shares for every Xstrata share, up from 2.8. 

TEPCO shareholders agree to 50.1% stake for Japanese government

After a Japanese government bailout that saved Tokyo Electric Power from bankruptcy in the wake of last year's massive nuclear accident, shareholders approved the utility's effective nationalization. The $12.6 billion bailout was conditioned on the government's receiving a 50.1% stake in TEPCO. 

Japan's Recruit lays plans for major IPO

Japanese information and staffing services provider Recruit has announced plans an IPO for its new holding company, probably in the next fiscal year. The offering comes more than 20 years after Recruit's notorious involvement in a stock-for-favors scandal. 

Billionaires spark flurry of acquisition activity in Australia

Billionaires in Australia looking to take advantage of low valuations in the country's lagging market are targeting mining and media companies in particular as acquisition activity picks up. With large resources at their disposal amid a tight credit market, billionaires can move quickly to seize what they perceive as bargains. 

Asian fund managers largely dismiss Europe

Europe is largely being written off by Asian fund managers as a place to find new investment opportunities or to raise capital, as revealed in a survey of industry executives by AsianInvestor and Clifford Chance. Europe received only 9% of votes among respondents while, by contrast, North America was tagged by 40% as one of their top three destinations of global capital. 

Asian currency weakness weighs on Standard Chartered revenue

The struggling Indian rupee and weakness in other Asian currencies are restraining first-half revenue growth at Standard Chartered. The U.K.-based bank with an Asian focus projects growth in the high single digits for the period, although it said it expects double-digit revenue growth for the full year. 

More international reach is urged for Islamic capital market

Expanded internationalization is the key for the Islamic capital market as it looks abroad for a wider range of product issuers and service providers, said Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin, executive director of Islamic capital market for Malaysia's Securities Commission. "The Islamic finance industry is presently at a crucial stage where it needs to redefine and establish the enabling environment that will spur its next phase of growth," he said. 

Ethics & Standards
Nomura chief pledges stronger controls amid insider-trading probe

Nomura Chief Executive Kenichi Watanabe easily won re-election at the company's shareholder meeting in Tokyo after apologizing for "trouble and concerns" caused by an ongoing Japanese investigation into allegations of insider trading. Watanabe also pledged to strengthen internal controls and corporate ethics but spoke no further of the scandal.
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