BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1245 GMT
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian police on Wednesday pulled back as protesters claimed victory after an overnight face-off in which authorities removed barricades and tents and scuffled with demonstrators occupying Kiev’s main square. Squadrons of police in helmets and bearing metal shields converged at about 1 a.m. on Independence Square, but thousands of protesters put up fierce resistance for hours, shoving back at police lines to keep them away from key sites. By Jim Heintz and Maria Danilova. SENT: 1,050 words, photos. Developing.
With POLAND-UKRAINE — Poland offers to media in Ukraine.
BERLIN — German police say one person has been killed and at least five others injured when a crane collapsed onto a supermarket in western Germany. Bad Homburg police spokesman Siegfried Schlott told The Associated Press it was not yet clear whether any other people were still trapped in the building. SENT: 90 words, photos. UPCOMING: 200 words by 1400 GMT.
BRUSSELS — European Union auditors recommended Wednesday that the EU stop paying the salaries of Palestinian civil servants in Gaza who don’t work. The findings were made public by the European Court of Auditors, which scrutinized how 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority has been used. By The Associated Press. SENT: 290 words.
LONDON — Two Damien Hirst artworks together valued at 33,000 pounds ($54,000) have been stolen from a London art gallery. The Metropolitan Police said the two signed prints were taken from the Exhibitionist Gallery in west London in the early hours of Monday. The works are among Hirst’s series of “spot” pieces, covered in multicolored dots. SENT: 200 words, photos.
ROME — Premier Enrico Letta has urged lawmakers to back his government following the tumultuous ouster of Silvio Berlusconi from Parliament and the loss of his party’s support for the government. Letta was facing confidence votes Wednesday in Parliament to reassess his majority after Berlusconi yanked his Forza Italia into the opposition. The government was expected to survive, since many of Berlusconi’s lawmakers split from the media mogul and formed a new party that still backs Letta. SENT: 120 words.
BERLIN — Germany’s chief federal prosecutor says he hasn’t decided whether to open an investigation into alleged surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency but is suggesting that he’s skeptical. Prosecutor Harald Range’s office has been considering since June whether it has grounds to investigate reports of NSA surveillance in Germany, which later included allegations that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone was monitored. SENT: 140 words, photos. FRANCE-HOPI AUCTION
PARIS — A U.S. charity says it has purchased 24 contested Native American artifacts from a French auction house in order to return them to tribes who sought to block their sale. The Los Angeles-based Annenberg Foundation said in a statement on its website Wednesday that it paid a total $530,000 for the artifacts and will return them to the Hopi Nation in Arizona and to the San Carlos Apache tribe. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1330 GMT.
PRAGUE — The leader of the first-place party in October’s parliamentary election says he has agreed with two other parties on a policy program for a possible coalition government, after compromising on his proposal for higher corporate and personal taxes. Social Democratic leader Bohuslav Sobotka on Wednesday told journalists there would be no tax increases next year, and that the partners also intend to reduce the tax on books and baby food and abolish fees for doctors’ visits. The parties still have to agree on who will head various government ministries. SENT: 130 words.
LONDON — A spokeswoman for Kate Winslet says the actress has given birth to a son and is “doing great.” Publicist Laura Symons says Winslet had a boy, her third child, on Saturday at a hospital in southern England. She says mother and baby are both doing well. SENT: 120 words, photos.
BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL
LONDON — Financial markets were sluggish Wednesday as investors remained focused on the prospect of a reduction in the U.S.’s monetary stimulus. An apparent budget deal in the U.S. Congress failed to have much of an impact even though it would mean another partial shutdown of the U.S. government will be avoided. Most interest rests on the U.S. debt ceiling, which has to be raised early next year to avoid a debt default. By Pan Pylas. 340 words out, to be updated around 1445 GMT
MADRID — Spanish fashion retailer Inditex, which owns Zara stores, says its profits barely rose in the first nine months of the year despite a solid sales increase and a further expansion worldwide. Inditex said Wednesday its net profit from February through October rose 1 percent to 1.67 billion ($2.3 billion) compared to the same period in 2012. Sales, meanwhile, swelled 5 percent to 11.93 billion euros. 130 words out
BERLIN — Germany’s Economy Ministry says the country will see “moderate growth at most” in the fourth quarter after industrial production declined in October. In its monthly report issued Wednesday, the ministry said conditions have improved for an upswing carried by domestic demand but significant risks remain, most of them from abroad. 140 words out
LONDON — Two units of the Lloyds Banking Group have been fined a record 28 million pounds ($46 million) for failing to control incentive plans on sales of investment and protection products. The fines against Lloyds TSB Bank and Bank of Scotland are the largest ever levied for retail conduct failings by the Financial Conduct Authority or its predecessor, the Financial Services Authority. 130 words out
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus has earmarked 340 million euros ($467.5 million) to help combat joblessness, which is expected to peak next year at over 19 percent in the bailed-out country. President Nicos Anastasiades says 300 million euros — half of which will come from the European Investment Bank — will be channeled to commercial banks for low-interest loans to small- and medium-sized businesses. 140 words out
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s statistics office is noting some signs of stabilization in the labor market despite a modest increase in the country’s unemployment rate in September to 27.4 percent from the previous month’s 27.3 percent. The country’s statistical authority says a total 1.38 million people were out of work in September, up from 1.30 million a year earlier. Despite the rise, the agency said Wednesday that it has observed “a relative stability” over the past four months, since the record of 27.5 percent set in May. 130 words out