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Morning Market Roundup: China's Mini-Stimulus, Iranian Virus, EU Buys Spain Time


Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:

China: China is rolling out a mini-stimulus to fight its economic slump but is moving cautiously after its massive response to the 2008 global crisis left a painful hangover of inflation and debt.

Beijing has yet to announce a total price tag. But measures announced piecemeal in recent weeks include 66 billion yuan ($10 billion) to build affordable housing and 26.5 billion yuan to subsidize sales of energy-efficient appliances.

That limited size should make the effort more manageable than the 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) avalanche of spending and bank loans in 2008. But its power to boost growth in a $2.5 trillion economy also will be smaller.

Iran: A senior Iranian military official says Iran's oil industry was briefly affected by a powerful computer virus that has unprecedented data-snatching capabilities and can eavesdrop on computer users. Gholam Reza Jalali, who heads an Iranian military unit in charge of fighting sabotage, said Wednesday that Iranian experts had found and defeated the "Flame" virus.

Jalali told state radio Wednesday that the oil industry was the only governmental body affected and all problems had been resolved.

Although it was reported Monday that the "Flame" virus was in Iran, it wasn't until today that Iranian authorities openly admitted it affected their facilities.

E.U.: The European Union's executive office on Wednesday recommended that Spain would be given an extra year until 2014 to reach its deficit targets.

To deal with its current budget crunch, EU Commissioner Olli Rehn said the Spanish government should be given such an extension only if it can effectively control the excessive spending in the semi-autonomous regions and present `'solid two year budget plans for 2013 and 2014."

In this case, `'we are ready to consider proposing an extension of the deadline to correct the excessive deficit by one year," Rehn said.

European leaders will consider the Commission's recommendations before making a ruling at a summit in June.

U.S. Futures: U.S. stock futures fell sharply Wednesday with the stability of the European Union tenuous and as Spain's cost of borrowing money hit the highest levels since the country joined the euro.

Events overseas have begun to drag on the U.S. banking sector. Shares of JPMorgan & Co, Bank of America Co., and Citigroup Inc. all fell in premarket trading.

Dow futures fell 105 points to 12,478. The broader S&P 500 futures gave up 11.2 points to 1,322.2. Nasdaq futures fell 21.75 points to 2,537.75.

The European Union's executive branch said Wednesday that economic confidence across the continent fell sharply this month, hitting the lowest level in about two and a half years.

The economic sentiment indicator for the 17 countries that use the euro fell by 2.3 points in May to 90.6, according to the European Commission. That was worse than what was expected and shares in European markets fell early.

The euro, which had already begun to slump, accelerated declines as borrowing costs for the Spanish government hit their highest level since the nation joined the monetary union.

U.S. corporations have reported deteriorating conditions in Europe and on Wednesday, HanesBrands said it was cutting all exposure to the continent by selling its division there.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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