World Bulletin / News Desk
French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that Paris and Berlin were in broad agreement on measures to stimulate growth but had not yet hammered out a deal on short-term steps to stabilise the euro zone's most fragile economies.
"There are points in common on growth luckily, (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel has moved in the direction I wanted," he told France 2 television before taking the train to Brussels for a two-day EU leaders summit.
"There is also an agreement on the financial trasaction tax, but we still need one on stability. There are ongoing discussions, it's normal," he added. "We need to act in support of the countries which need it: Spain and Italy."
Since Britain voted last June to exit the European Union, the country's finance, car and airline sectors have been lobbying the loudest for continued access to the European single market.
France remained Germany's second largest trading partner while the US slipped from first to third place, as bilateral trade contracted by five percent to 165 billion euros.
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The unit was at 19.69 to the dollar, strengthening from around 19.90 on Thursday and up more than 10 percent from its record lows around 22.00 in early January.
The country's federal, state and local governments together achieved an overall surplus in their public finances of 23.7 billion euros ($25 billion) last year, according to Germany's statistics office Destatis.
Exchange rate dipped to as low as 3.5756 points, lowest figure since Jan 4.
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Aude Fleurant, head of the armaments program at Sipri, told AFP that "competition is fierce among European producers" with France, Germany and Britain in the lead.
PSA, the parent company of France's Peugeot, Citroen and DS, has confirmed it is interested in taking over Opel, the German arm of US giant General Motors.
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Another positive assessment of the US economy and reassurance over tax reform from President Donald Trump was not enough to spur further buying in Asia after the past week's rally.
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