A look at economic developments and activity in major stock markets around the world Wednesday:


DUBLIN â¿¿ A defiant Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is vowing to push through Europe's toughest slash-and-tax budget in the face of voter fury, then defy the odds to win re-election despite a debt disaster that has shaken the entire eurozone.

Cowen's vigorous defense of his embattled leadership comes a day after lawmakers narrowly backed a 2011 budget containing euro6 billion ($8 billion) in cuts and tax hikes that will take an estimated euro3,000 ($4,000) per year out of average Irish households. The unprecedented scale of the budget-tightening was a key condition for Ireland's recent agreement of a euro67.5 billion ($90 billion) EU-IMF rescue fund to help Ireland cover its European-leading deficit and revive its debt-struck banks.

Wednesday's yields on 10-year bonds were little changed for the eurozone members rated most at risk of an eventual default, particularly Greece, which in May became the first eurozone member to be saved from bankruptcy. The most significant mover was Germany, whose benchmark bonds suffered a moderate selloff, driving their 10-year yields above 3 percent for the first time since May's Greek crisis.

Traders said the selling reflected investors' increased appetite for higher-risk bonds versus the Germans' top-rated and consequently low-yielding debt securities.


LONDON â¿¿ European stocks traded in narrow ranges as bond market investors fretted about Europe's debt crisis and over the scale of U.S. borrowing following President Barack Obama's agreement with the Republicans to extend tax cuts.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 13.92 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,794.53 while Germany's DAX fell 26.04 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,975.87. The CAC-40 in France ended 21.48 points, or 0.6 percent, higher at 3,831.98.

More dramatic developments are being seen in the dollar and in U.S. government bonds following Obama's tax cuts compromise. Bond investors are worried there is no credible plan to get a grip on the U.S.'s own problems.

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