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Japan Economy Contracted Less Than Estimated

July 13, 2011. Japan’s economy contracted less than economists estimated in the second quarter as reconstruction work limits the slump from the record earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Gross domestic product shrank at an annualized 1.3 percent rate in the three months ended June 30, marking three consecutive quarters of declines, the Cabinet office said today in Tokyo. The median forecast of 25 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a 2.5 percent drop. Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said today that the world’s third-biggest economy will probably resume its expansion this quarter after pledging yesterday to take “bold action” to curb yen gains if necessary.

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The Gas Price Puzzle

July 12, 2011. Several weeks ago during a visit to Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, this reporter couldn’t help but notice the price of gasoline. It averaged about $3.75. Not exactly cheap, but considering it was in Downeast Maine, a tourist destination and an island, the price for liquid fossil fuel was certainly less expensive than expected. The joking began: “Let’s drive up here next time we need gas.” “Let’s ditch the duffel bags for jerry cans, fill them up with gas and bring it home.”

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Europe Gives $17 Billion to Greece to Avoid Default

Euro zone finance ministers confirmed Friday that they would announce the release of a $17.4 billion, or €12 billion, installment of aid for Greece on Saturday, buying the country time to avoid an immediate default. As part of the announcement, the finance ministers said they would cancel a meeting planned for Sunday, when the conditions for a second bailout were expected to be decided, and hold a video conference Saturday instead.

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