The EU’s economy shrank by 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to year-on-year figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office. Gross domestic product (GDP) in the 16 countries of the eurozone fell by 2.2% in the same period. GDP fell most sharply in Latvia (-17.1%), Lithuania (-13.2%) and Estonia (-9.5%). The only countries whose economies grew were Poland (up 2.8%) and Luxembourg (1.4%).
Moody’s, the credit rating agency, warned on Tuesday (6 April) that it could rate Iceland’s bonds as ‘junk’ if it does not resolve a dispute with the UK and the Netherlands. Iceland has yet to agree how to reimburse the British and Dutch governments for covering losses incurred by savers when the internet bank Icesave collapsed in October 2008.
Iron mining complaint
The European Commission confirmed yesterday (7 April) that the Brazilian mining company Vale has formally called for it to investigate the effects on competition of a planned joint venture between the Australian mining company BHP Billiton and the Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto. The three companies are the world’s largest suppliers of iron ore.
The Commission yesterday gave Germany’s Siemens permission to form a joint venture with Sinara Locomotives Limited of Cyprus. The venture is controlled by Dmitry Pumpyansky, a Russian billionaire.
The Commission’s antitrust authorities decided yesterday that the German companies Bosch, Deutz and Eberspächer can go ahead with a planned joint venture. The venture will produce equipment to reduce emissions from diesel engines.
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