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Financial Focus

THE US ECONOMY added 227,000 jobs in February while the
unemployment rate remained at 8.3%, official figures showed. This is the
first time since early 2011 that payrolls have grown by more than 200,000 –
a sign the economic recovery was broadening and in less need of stimulus
from the Federal Reserve.

BRITISH INDUSTRIAL output suffered a shock fall in January, raising
doubts about whether the economy will rebound after contracting at the end
of 2011.The Office for National Statistics said that industrial output fell 0.4%
in January after a 0.4% rise in December, confounding economists’
forecasts for a 0.3% rise. The figures contrast with a recent strengthening in
business surveys and may revive fears that Britain is heading for a doubledip
recession, placing extra pressure on the Bank of England and the
government to provide stimulus to boost demand.

CHINA’S ANNUAL consumer inflation slowed sharply to a 20-month low of
3.2% in February, staying comfortably within Beijing’s 2012 target and
giving policymakers ample room to further loosen monetary policy to
support flagging growth. Easing price pressures will allow the People’s
Bank of China (PBOC) to continue reducing level of the cash commercial
banks must hold as reserves to keep money supply steady in the face of
volatile foreign capital inflows, supporting growth without causing an
inflationary spike, analysts say.

UPBEAT U.S. jobs data helped Britain’s top share index stretch gains into a third straight session on Friday, sending a bullish
signal as the gauge broke through a major technical resistance. Stocks rose in the afternoon after better-than-expected U.S.
employment data showed the world’s largest economy was gaining momentum, raising expectations for global demand for
goods and services and compensating for weak growth in Europe. The FTSE 100 index rose 27.76 points, or 0.5%, to 5,887.49,
breaking above a major technical resistance zone at 5,859.85-5,884.43. Friday’s rise helped the FTSE limit its weekly loss to
0.4% and showed sentiment towards British equities was still positive, after a stormy start to the trading week had led some to
believe the recent, three-month rally was drawing to an end.

ASIAN STOCKS were lower today as data showing China posted a big trade deficit last month overshadowed strong US jobs
numbers and a rebound in Japan’s machinery orders. The MSCI Asia Pacific index receded 0.2% with Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock
Average up 0.5%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 off 0.3%, and South Korea’s Kospi Composite index 0.3% lower. Hong Kong’s
Hang Seng index and China’s Shanghai Composite index each inched down 0.1%.

THE DOLLAR strengthened, touching a 10-month high versus the yen, as better-than-forecast payrolls damped Federal
Reserve monetary stimulus speculation. The euro fell for a second week against the dollar as Greece’s use of collective-action
clauses forcing investors to take losses under the nation’s debt restructuring will trigger payouts on $3 billion of default

OIL CLIMBED for a third day in New York on Friday after U.S. employers boosted payrolls more than forecast, bolstering
optimism that the world’s largest economy and fuel demand will grow. Futures rose 0.8% after the Labour Department said
payrolls increased by 227,000 in February.

INDIA, the world’s second-biggest cotton producer, will end a ban on exports after protests from growers, traders and China, the
nation’s biggest buyer. “Keeping in view the interests of the farmers, industry, trade, a balance view has been considered by the
Group of Ministers to roll back the ban,” Trade Minister Anand Sharma said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

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