The Associated Press
A look at economic developments and activity in major stock markets around the world Wednesday:
ATHENS, Greece ¿ With creditors demanding solutions to the Greek debt crisis and the financial world increasingly on edge, Athens froze pensions, cut civil service salaries and slapped new taxes on everything from cigarettes and alcohol to fuel and precious gems. Markets and the European Union reacted well to the 4.8 billion euro ($6.5 billion) austerity plan. But combustible Greek unions were outraged ¿ and the country's embattled premier, who had likened the situation to a "state of war," is heading to Germany and France seeking more definite expressions of support. Prime Minister George Papandreou warned that unless the new measures won EU and market backing and brought down the cost of borrowing for his country, Greece would turn to the International Monetary Fund.
BRUSSELS ¿ The European Commission said it will call in market regulators and banks to discuss possible problems with the market for credit default swaps on sovereign debt. The swaps are a form of insurance against a borrower defaulting on debt ¿ and the market for them has swelled in recent weeks as traders weigh up the risk that Greece might not be able to repay its massive debt. EU press officer Carmel Dunne said in an e-mailed statement that EU officials were looking at the issue closely and would shortly call a meeting of regulators, supervisors and the industry to discuss it.
TALCAHUANO, Chile ¿ Chile's horrendously destructive 8.8-magnitude quake doesn't have a price tag on it yet, though President Michelle Bachelet mentioned a $30 billion estimate. The earthquake has ravaged infrastructure for Chile's important fish and wine sectors. Chile's copper industry, which supplies a third of the world's copper, wasn't badly affected, however, because most operations lie north of Santiago. Mining company Anglo American PLC said it planned to resume full production of its Chagres copper smelter, but damage from the recent earthquake would keep a plant near the city of Concepcion offline indefinitely.