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Morning briefing: French workers strike over retirement age hike plan

1. Responding to media reports that it has blocked the export of rare earths to Japan, China's Trade Ministry on Thursday denied any curbs on exports after a territorial dispute between the rival powers. Industry officials had told the New York Times that Chinese customs officials were preventing the minerals from being loaded aboard ships at export hubs, a move that could affect the production of hybrid cars, wind turbines and guided missiles.

2. Growth in private-sector activity across the eurozone slowed dramatically in September, bringing concerns about the stability of Europe's economy to center stage.The purchasing managers index, which combines manufacturing and services, fell to a seven-month low of 53.8 from 56.2 in August. Economists had forecast a decline to 55.9.

3. The Spanish government struck a deal with an opposition party that will help it pass a 2011 budget that it hopes will help keep its deficit down.

4. Thailand's long-delayed auction of 3G mobile licenses was thrown into further doubt Thursday after a court upheld an injunction against the plan.

5. French commuters struggled Thursday as a second round of strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age to 62 paralyzed trains, planes and schools across the country.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha  | September 23, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  *Morning briefing  
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