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Morning Market Roundup: U.S. Econ Grows, German Inflation & Futures Up

Morning Market Roundup: U.S. Econ Grows, German Inflation & Futures Up

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

U.S. Economy: The U.S. economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, adding that growth was marginally better than its initial estimate of 1.5 percent.

Economists expect some improvement in growth in the second half of the year after seeing more positive data in July. But most believe the economy will keep growing at a subpar rate of around 2 percent.

Growth at or below 2 percent is not enough to lower the unemployment rate, which was 8.3 percent in July. Most expect the unemployment rate to stay above 8 percent for the rest of this year.

A weak economy and high unemployment could hurt President Barack Obama re-election chances and bolster Republican candidate Mitt Romney's campaign.

Euro Central Bank: European Central Bank head Mario Draghi urged skeptical Germans to support efforts to rescue the euro, saying the currency's original setup may have been flawed but that fixes are within reach - and shouldn't mean Germany will always pay for less well-managed countries' troubles.

In a newspaper article, Draghi stressed that as an exporter deeply integrated into the global and eurozone economies, Germany needs a strong, stable euro. He said there were ways to repair the 17-country currency union without creating a political federation or "United States of Europe" that would involve richer countries such as Germany constantly sending money to laggards that have overspent or mismanaged their economies.

European officials can take less drastic steps, such as establishing stricter central oversight of national spending and tougher scrutiny of banks, he said.

Draghi argued that that the euro's original 1999 setup - one currency shared by countries that only loosely coordinate their spending and economies - has been discredited by the debt crisis that has seen Greece, Ireland and Portugal run up heavy debts and need bailout loans from the other countries.

While the euro was launched as "a currency without a state" to preserve the independence of member countries, Draghi said the debt woes have shown "this institutional framework left the euro area insufficiently equipped to ensure sound economic policies and effectively manage crises."

He advocated a calm discussion of the "minimum requirements" to complete the monetary union, including more central EU control over spending by individual countries and tougher scrutiny of problem banks.

"We need true oversight over national budgets," he said. "The consequences of misguided fiscal policies in a monetary union are too severe to remain self-policed."

German Inflation: Annual inflation in Germany rose to 2.2 percent in August from 1.9 percent the month before due to higher fuel prices.

Germany's statistics agency Destatis said Wednesday prices rose 0.3 percent from the month before, according to the common EU consumer price index.

The European Central Bank has said it sees no inflation threat now for the 17-country eurozone as a whole.

Some economists say a rise in inflation in Germany could help solve the eurozone's debt crisis. Under this view, higher prices in Germany would help even out the severe gaps in competitiveness between companies from Germany and those from southern Europe, who are struggling to attract investment and improve economic growth.

Futures: U.S. stock futures edged higher Wednesday after the latest economic data showing that the U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the second quarter than initially thought.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 12 points to 13,098. The broader S&P futures added 1.7 points to 1,409.50. Nasdaq futures tacked on 5 points to 2,785.75.

In Europe, the FTSE index of leading British shares fell 0.5 percent to 5,747. France's CAC-40 pulled back 0.7 percent to 3,409, while the DAX in Germany was down 0.6 percent at 6,960.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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