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Morning briefing: Asian markets up, British Airways-Iberia merger approved

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Good morning. Here's what happened overnight in Asia and Europe.

*Singapore, a barometer of world demand because its economy is so export-oriented, raised its forecast for economic growth to between 13 and 15 percent, up from its previous forecast of 7 to 9 percent. The government said it anticipates that export growth will be stronger than expected as global demand stays strong despite Europe's debt crisis.

*The good news out of Singapore helped push Asian stocks higher with Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average climbing 2.7 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng up 0.6 percent and South Korea's Kospi up 1.3 percent. In Europe, markets fell slightly on Wednesday after a six-day rally as investors anticipated the release of retail sales numbers in the United States. The benchmark Stoxx 600 index slipped 0.3 percent while the British FTSE 100 index was down 22.23 points, or 0.4 percent, Germany's DAX fell 7.66 points, or 0.1 percent.

*The European Commission on Wednesday approved a merger between British Airways and Iberia and agreed to allow the airlines to team up with American Airlines to share more trans-Atlantic routes. The merger will create Europe's third-largest airline. The European Commission said it did not see anti-trust concerns with British Airways and Iberia combining because they do not currently compete on many routes and will continue to have competition on routes such as from London to Madrid and Barcelona. The regulators were more concerned with the American Airlines oneworld alliance deal. but they cleared it after the airlines said they would give up valuable take-off and landing slots to rivals.

*Swiss bank Credit Suisse AG in Germany confirmed on Wednesday that its 13 branch offices had been searched by police. A prosecutor in Duesseldorf told the Associated Press that 140 officers searched branches in Berlin, Duesseldorf, Munich and other German cities based on data from a recently bought CD that documened alleged tax evasion via Switzerland.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  |  July 14, 2010; 7:44 AM ET
 
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