The spending request includes about $63 billion for
the Pentagon for the Iraq mobilization as well as the ongoing war on
The measure will apply to the current fiscal year
which ends on September 30. "This spending should not be viewed as
a spending that's unwise, unrelated and unnecessary," said Mr Bush,
adding that every dollar spent on the war was needed to make America a
Mr Bush said he had informed the leaders of Congress
that "the situation is fluid" and the administration requires
"flexibility on how this fund is spent". He asked Congress to
"act quickly and responsibly" in approving the request for
He also asked Congress to release fund for relief and
reconstruction in "free Iraq".
A leading anti-war Democrat, Rep Dennis Kucinich of
Ohio, blasted the president's request.
"The bill for this unprovoked attack is just
starting to come in, and the American people should start worrying that
the administration has lost control over the costs," said Kucinich,
who is mounting a long shot bid for the Democratic presidential
FRESH DOUBT FOR GERMAN RECOVERY
Businesses in Germany turned gloomier in March,
according to one of the most reputable surveys of corporate confidence.
The survey throws cold water on hopes that Germany's
troubled economy could have turned the corner.
The Ifo institute's monthly survey of the business
climate registered modest gains in January and February, but the
institute said it takes three months to establish a trend.
The survey, said Ifo survey director Gernot Nerb,
"means we did not get a signal that many have expected — that we
have reached the low turning point".
"It's not dramatic, but we have to live with
some uncertainty about when the recovery will start."
The index was reading 88.1 in March, down from 88.9
in February, despite predictions from many econonists that the March
reading would prove unchanged.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, though, played
down the figures.
"It's not surprising that the Ifo index hasn't
made giant leaps upwards in the current situation... marked by the Iraq
war," he said. "How else could it be?"
Germany is wrestling with a budget deficit spiralling
well beyond the 3% limit laid out in European Union agreements, as well
as stubbornly high unemployment of 11% of the workforce.
Some economists believe that the second half of the
year will see a pick-up in economic growth, and the government says that
expansion could hit 1% after last year's anaemic 0.2%.
ARGENTINA LIFTS FINAL CASH CURBS
Argentina has said it will lift the remaining
restrictions on citizens withdrawing cash from banks.
The move will unfreeze 14 billion pesos ($4.8bn,
£3.1bn), further easing the country's financial crisis.
The Argentine government has gradually relaxed cash
curbs introduced in late 2001 that froze half of all bank deposits.
The restrictions, known as the "corralito"
or "little fence", sparked violent street protests that helped
bring down President Fernando de la Rua.
They were swiftly followed by Argentina defaulting on
its debts and devaluing the currency, the peso.
Many bank depositors realised what was coming and
wanted to get their money out to convert it into dollars — a currency
that would retain its value.
The ban on withdrawals was designed to prevent too
many people withdrawing their money and precipitating the collapse of
the financial system.
OIL SHORTAGE ROCKS MARKETS
Oil prices have marched higher and key share indexes
have fallen, as the war in Iraq continues to dominate world markets.
The world's stock markets were falling, as investors
fretted about the impact of war on future economic growth.
London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed 64
points or 1.7% lower at 3,729, France's Cac 40 ended 2.3% down, while
Germany's Dax had fallen by 1.5%.
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
initially lost more than 100 points before rebounding strongly to stand
28 points, or 0.35%, at 8,201, a the closing bell.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo closed up 0.2%
while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 1% lower.
BOOST FOR UK ECONOMY
The UK's economy grew at a slightly better rate last
year than was estimated, according to new government figures.
This was because financial services and transport and
storage performed more strongly than first thought, according to the
Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It said the economy grew by 2.2% in the last three
months of the year compared with a year earlier, slightly higher than
was estimated in February.
And the figure for the whole of the year was revised
up to 1.8% from 1.6%.
That makes the growth in the economy during 2002
slightly better than Mr Brown's forecast of 1.6%, given in November's
He has pencilled in growth of 2.5% to 3% in 2003 but
analysts think he might have to revise that figure in April's budget.
US OFFERS TURKEY BILLIONS IN LOANS
The US has surprised Turkey with an offer of up to
$8.5bn in loan guarantees, despite their disagreement over the
deployment of American troops.
The package falls well short of the $6bn in direct
aid, which could have secured $24bn in loans, in exchange for "full
cooperation" on Iraq, which was rejected on March 1 by the Turkish
But President George W. Bush's war budget for Iraq
offers Turkey much more than they expected and could ease the economic
blow of the war.
"A portion of this ($1bn in grants) may be used
by Turkey to pay fees to cover the budget cost of up to $8.5bn in direct
loans or loan guarantees to help Turkey in carrying out comprehensive
economic and financial reforms and relieving potential balance of
payments needs that may result from hostilities in Iraq," the White
House budget document said.
The budget, which still needs to be approved by the
US Congress, said the grants could be used to secure loans or loan
guarantees "not to exceed $8.5bn."
EU WEIGHS AIRLINE AID
European Transport Ministers are meeting in Brussels
to discuss helping out the cash-strapped airline industry.
The war in Iraq has led to a slowdown in global
travel, forcing airlines to take emergency measures such as drastic cuts
in flight schedules and jobs.
One of the proposals on the agenda for the 15
transport ministers meeting is allowing EU governments to cover the
costs of extra security measures.
Regulations forcing airlines to give up under-used
routes to rivals could also be relaxed.
Normally, airlines would lose a slot if it were being
used less than 80% of the time.
UK BIGGEST ONLINE BANKERS
Nearly 60 million online bank accounts are currently
in use across Europe according to independent market analysts
The numbers of active online current, savings and
investment bank accounts has more than doubled since 2000 and is set to
increase to 84m by 2007, the report's authors suggest.
More Britons and Germans bank online than French or
But the Scandinavians are the most likely to use the
Internet to manage their finances, with four out of 10 Swedes and Finns
MOZAMBIQUE PRIVATISES MAPUTO PORT
Mozambique has privatised the operations of Maputo's
port with plans to make it a major South African gateway.
Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, Britain's second
largest ports operator, heads a consortium that will own 51% of the
Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC).
The consortium will take over operations of Maputo
and the coal, grain and aluminium terminal of Matola from the government
on April 14.
UAL CORP REPORTS LOSS
UAL Corp, the owner of crisis-hit US carrier United
Airlines, has reported a net loss of $367m (£233m) for the month of
US STEEL TARIFFS 'BROKE RULES'
The US decision to impose tariffs on steel imports
broke global trade rules, the World Trade Organisation has said in a
The finding has been submitted for comment to both
the US government and the EU with a final ruling expected next month,
The EU and several other countries complained to the
WTO after the US imposed tariffs of between 8% and 30% on certain kinds
of foreign steel a year ago.
PREMIER OIL DELAYS RESTRUCTURING
British oil firm Premier Oil has delayed its
restructuring plan, including its withdrawal from controversial
activities in Burma.
Premier said its restructuring, aimed at making it a
completely independent oil company, was still going ahead but had been
delayed as partners finalise details.
Through a deal struck last year, two of premier's
largest investors — Amerada Hess of the US and Malaysia's Petronas —
will give up their combined 50% stake in return for some of Premier's
key assets in Burma and Indonesia.
UK FIRM DENIES SELLING TO IRAQ
A British defence firm has categorically denied
supplying Iraq with boxes of rocket-propelled grenades bearing its name
reportedly found near Basra.
Hampshire-based Wallop Defence Systems told BBC News
Online it had never produced anything with high explosives and had never
sold anything to Iraq.
GOLD SMUGGLING HITS ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia's drought-hit economy is losing $30m (£19m)
a year from gold smuggling, its government believes.
Up to 3 million grams are leaving the country every
year, according to Khasu Tadesse, head of the Mines Ministry's project
Local diggers throughout Ethiopia are selling on the
black market to traders from neighbouring Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, he
DR CONGO GETS $36M FROM IMF
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has won $36m
(£23m) of aid for development spending, despite having missed several
of the conditions being demanded in exchange.
The money takes the amount loaned by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the DRC to $569m of a total $786m
SENATE REVERSES BUSH TAX CUTS
In a surprising reversal, the Senate has reduced the
size of proposed tax cuts by 50%.
The plan to cut taxes by $726bn over the next 10
years is the centrepiece of the Bush administration's domestic agenda.
The president believes it is crucial to create jobs
and boost the flagging US economy, but critics say it will add to the
surging US budget deficit, which is already projected to be over $300bn
Last week, a coalition of moderate Republicans and
Democrats lost a vote to reduce that tax cut by $360bn, in order to
limit the size of future deficits.
WAR KNOCKS US CONSUMERS
US consumer confidence fell to a new 10-year low in
March during the build-up to the war on Iraq.
The Conference Board's consumer confidence index fell
to 62.5 points from 64.8 points in February, the lowest level since
October 1993, up to March 18.
BANK OF JAPAN HOLDS WAR COUNCIL
Top bankers in Tokyo have agreed to spend an extra
trillion yen ($8.4bn; £5.3bn) on buying stocks from Japan's
hard-pressed banks, in an attempt to defend the tattered financial
system from the after-effects of the war in Iraq.
The new governor of the Bank of Japan, Toshihiko
Fukui, made the announcement — boosting the target for stock buying
from 2 trillion yen to 3 trillion — after a double meeting of the
BoJ's policy board.
TURKISH MARKETS HIT RECORD LOWS
Turkey's stock markets have plummeted to record lows
on news US forces are starting to leave the country.
The Turkish lira is also falling as investors fret
over the absence of a multi-billion dollar US aid package.
Turkey had been in line for up to $30bn from
Washington, in return for allowing 62,000 US troops to be stationed on
But a decision in the Turkish parliament not to allow
the troops to stay has left US-Turkish relations on a knife-edge.
UK HOUSE PRICES STAGNATE
UK house prices failed to increase during March,
according to the latest survey from property website Hometrack.
Prices in London and the South East fell while growth
remained strong in northern areas, causing the average price of a home