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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

July 30, 2014



DONETSK, Ukraine — International observers turned back Wednesday after making another attempt to reach the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down in eastern Ukraine, and a government official said the area near the zone had been mined by pro-Russian separatists who control it. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe set out Wednesday in two vehicles — without frustrated crash investigators from the Netherlands who have been trying to reach the site for four days. By Dima Lovetsky. SENT: 250 words, photos. UPCOMING: 400 words by 1300 GMT.


MOSCOW— Russia’s central bank promised to support financial institutions hit by U.S. sanctions as stocks took a tumble in Moscow on Wednesday. Russia’s state-owned VTB bank — Russia’s second-largest — was down 0.5 percent on Wednesday morning. Other major banks that were left unscathed by sanctions — such as the country’s largest, Sberbank — were trading higher. Russia’s MICEX benchmark index added 2.3 percent from its previous closing. By Laura Mills and Julie Pace. SENT: 760 words, photos.


MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the leader of the economically powerful Catalonia region held a crucial face-to-face meeting Wednesday in what could be a last chance to resolve a bitter dispute over the region’s plans to hold a secession referendum in November. The independence campaign holds profound consequences for Spain as it emerges from its worst economic crisis in a generation, with Catalonia as a major driver of growth. And Europe will be watching closely as the Spanish debate comes to a head as Scotland also prepares to hold a referendum on leaving the United Kingdom. By Ciaran Giles. SENT: 880 words, photos.


BRUSSELS — The man suspected of killing four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May has been charged with “murder in a terrorist context.” One day after his extradition from France, federal police said Wednesday that Mehdi Nemmouche had also been interrogated by a counter-terrorist unit. SENT: 130 words.


LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s Espirito Santo family business survived wars, dictatorship, revolution and family feuds for almost 150 years. Now, one of Europe’s last banking dynasties is being stripped of its wealth and influence amid accounting irregularities, huge unreported debts, and a police investigation. The scandal bears the hallmarks of the recent European financial crisis, and the difficulties at Banco Espirito Santo — Portugal’s largest bank — sent a shiver through global markets this month as investors feared Europe’s closet contained more skeletons. Portugal was one of the main casualties of the eurozone’s debt woes when it needed a 78 billion-euro ($105 billion) bailout in 2011 to avoid bankruptcy. By Barry Hatton. SENT: 960 words, photos.


BERLIN — The head of Germany’s central bank says higher wages would be justified in the country as the economy flourishes, and is putting the potential for raises at 3 percent. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann told Wednesday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily it is “in the nature of things and to be welcomed that wages rise more strongly than in times when the German economy was in significantly worse shape.” SENT: 130 words.


LONDON — The chief executive of Barclays says that claw-back provisions on bankers’ bonuses are a good idea in principle as the Bank of England prepares to publish new rules to punish executives who misbehave. Antony Jenkins told the BBC on Wednesday that such provisions are useful, though he we was awaiting the details. Barclays reported adjusted net income fell 14 percent to 1.76 billion pounds ($2.9 billion). Jenkins blamed foreign exchange movements for distorting results.


MADRID — Spain’s economy grew by a better-than-expected 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, the fastest rate since 2007 and more evidence of the country’s recovery from recession. In provisional estimates released Wednesday, the National Statistics Institute says the economy grew by 1.2 percent over 12 months, following four consecutive quarters of expansion. SENT: 130 words.


TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s central bank says 713 million leke (5 million euros; $6.75 million) has been stolen from its reserve storage building. Authorities arrested two bank employees last week. SENT: 130 words.


BERLIN — German authorities say a man was killed and five others injured when a mechanical digger tipped over and hit them during a so-called Cold Water Challenge, a dare that has been spreading on Facebook. Prosecutors said Wednesday 11 members of a bowling club in Isselburg, on the Dutch border, had filled the digger’s shovel with 2000 liters (528 gallons) of water, which was to be poured over them. SENT: 130 words.


PARIS — European aerospace company Airbus says it expects its revenue to remain stable this year despite a big cancellation recently for some of its large A350 planes. Airbus competes fiercely with Chicago-based Boeing Co. in the global market for large civilian aircraft. It took a hit in June when Emirates airline cancelled an order for 70 of the twin-aisle planes, opting for Boeing models instead. SENT: 130 words.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s state-run news agency says an Istanbul court has ordered 11 more police officers formally arrested and jailed pending trial for allegedly illegally wiretapping Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials. The Anadolu Agency says the officers were jailed early Wednesday, raising the number of officers formally detained for illegal wiretaps to 31. SENT: 130 words.

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