Above the Fold
Greek GDP increased by 4.6% in the first quarter, the fastest pace in more than two years, supported by investment. Investment increases reflect a housing boom, increased inflow of European Union funds, tax reductions for companies and a new law that offers incentives for investment. Economic growth helped Greece, and Germany, escape the wrath of the European Commission as their budget deficits fell in line.
The more it grows, (tiddly pom), the more it grows, (tiddly pom), on growing. Industrial production in China rose 17.4% in April, increasing pressure on the government to raise interest rates. Premier Wen Jiabao expressed concern over the stock market bubble and overcapacity in manufacturing.
UK unemployment fell to its lowest since October 2005 as economic growth encouraged hiring. Jobless claims declined 15,700 to 890,000, while the jobless rate hovered at 5.5% in the first quarter. The claimant count rate fell to 2.8% in April, the lowest since November 2005.
Venezuela’s health minister announced plans to phase out cultivation and production of tobacco. Smokers will be forced to buy imported cigarettes.
Brazilian real hit a six-year high to close at 1.982 per US$.