Morning business round-up: Stocks up on Greek hope

What made the business news in Asia and Europe this morning? Here's our daily business round-up:

European stock markets were higher before a meeting of eurozone finance ministers that many hope will finalise a new bailout for Greece.

The UK's FTSE 100 rose 0.5%, while German and French stocks were also higher.

Cash-strapped Athens needs the 130bn-euro (£110bn; $170bn) bailout by mid-March to avoid defaulting on its debts.

In other market news, oil prices reached their highest since June last year because of rising tensions over Iran's nuclear programme.

In the UK, Lloyds Bank is taking back bonuses worth £2m from executives in the wake of the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

That includes the former chief executive Eric Daniels, the BBC learned.

UK mortgage lending picked up in January compared with the same month a year earlier, lenders' figures show.

However, the usual seasonal fall meant lending was down on December, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said.

And the the British Retail Consortium said that conditions on High Streets are bleak as customer numbers fall.

Figures from the organisation show footfall - which measures customer numbers - was down 0.9% in January compared with a year ago.

In Asian news, Thailand's economy contracted sharply in the last three months of 2011 after some of the worst flooding on record disrupted manufacturing.

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Gross domestic product declined by 9% in the three months to December compared with a year earlier.

Japan's trade deficit surged to a record high in January as a strong yen hurt exports and its nuclear crisis resulted in increased fuel imports.

And China's central bank cut the amount of money banks must keep in reserve, in an effort to boost lending and sustain economic growth.

The latest edition of Business Daily asks whether the next boss of the World Bank will finally bring an end to the American monopoly of the top job. Andrew Walker talks to Nigeria's Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, who says it's time for change.

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