Morning business round-up: Cyprus banks reopen

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Banks in Cyprus have reopened after a two-week closure sparked by discussions on an EU-IMF bailout, amid tension over possible large-scale withdrawals.

Branches were replenished with cash overnight and police were deployed amid fears of a run on the banks.

Some queues did form, but customers face strict controls on the amount they can withdraw each day.

The restrictions were defended by the European Commission, which said the move was justified because the "stability of financial markets and the banking system in Cyprus constitutes a matter of overriding public interest".

The world's major economies will see stronger growth this year, but Europe's recovery will continue to be slow, an international organisation has said.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicted stronger growth in the US, Japan and Germany, but said concerns remained over the recovery of the wider eurozone.

It said governments would need to keep special measures in place to boost economic growth.

His comments follow calls by Japan's new government for aggressive stimulus measures to help revive the country's sluggish economy.

Earlier this year, it approved a 10.3tn yen ($116bn; £72bn) stimulus package.

There have been fears that such moves will further increase Japan's public debt, which is already the highest among industrialised countries.

Japan's public debt stands at about 230% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Retail sales in Japan fell by more than forecast in February, underlining the challenge the new government faces to stoke inflation and consumer demand.

Sales dropped 2.3% from a year earlier, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said, whereas most analysts had forecast a fall of 1.2%.

Japan has been trying to boost domestic demand to offset a decline in exports and revive its stagnant economy, hurt over the years by deflation, or falling prices.

The finance ministry now expects the economy to grow by 2.3% in 2013, down from its earlier projection of 3%.

Exports, which account for almost half of South Korea's overall output, have been hit by weak demand from markets such as the US and the eurozone.

The ministry said that it would unveil a series of stimulus measures in the coming days aimed at reviving growth.

The UK's services sector grew at its fastest pace for five months in January, raising hopes that the economy will avoid falling back into recession.

Output rose by 0.3% in January from December, the Office for National Statistics said.

Compared with a year earlier, the services sector - which makes up more than three-quarters of the UK's annual economic output - rose 0.8%.

The latest Business Daily podcast from the BBC World Service looks at the Islamic finance industry. The industry is worth trillions of dollars and is growing, but this brings with it a whole new set of problems. Can Islamic law be standardised?

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