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Morning Market Roundup: German Energy Tax, Inflation Eases in China, Social Sec. Benefits Increase


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

Germany: Germany's tax on households' electricity bills to finance the expansion of renewable energies will rise almost 50 percent on the year as the country pushes ahead with phasing out nuclear power within a decade.

The country's four main grid operators say Monday that the tax will rise from €3.6 cents to €5.3 cents ($6.7 cents) per kilowatt hour starting in January. That brings the annual cost of financing Germany's energy switchover for a family of four to about €250 ($324) per year, including sales tax.

The tax is used to pay producers of solar, wind or biomass power guaranteed above-market rates to ensure their investment will be profitable.

Renewable energies currently produce a quarter of Germany's electricity but are set to account for 80 percent by 2050.

China: China's inflation eased further in September, giving the government more room to stimulate the country's slowing economy.

Consumer inflation fell to 1.9 percent from August's 2 percent rate, data showed Monday. Politically sensitive food prices rose 2.5 percent, down from the previous month's 3.4 percent.

The decline gives Beijing more excuse to cut interest rates or boost spending to reverse the country's deepest slowdown since the 2008 global crisis.

Producer prices contracted 3.6 percent compared with a year earlier, a striking sign of slack demand despite two interest rate cuts since the start of June and higher government spending on building airports and other public works.

Chinese leaders have been moving cautiously in response to the slowdown after their huge stimulus in 2008 ignited inflation and a wasteful building boom. Economic growth fell to a three-year low of 7.6 percent in the quarter ending in June and officials including President Hu Jintao have warned it may decline further before recovering.

Social Security Benefit Increase: Social Security recipients won't be getting big benefit increases next year, but the small raises they will receive are playing an important role in helping seniors grow their incomes even as younger workers lose ground.

Preliminary figures show the annual benefit boost will be between 1 and 2 percent, which would be among the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. Monthly benefits for retired workers average $1,237, meaning the typical retiree can expect a raise of between $12 and $24 a month.

The size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will be made official Tuesday, when the government releases inflation figures for September.

Markets: A round of figures showing China's economy is in relatively good health helped buoy markets Monday, at the start of a week that could offer greater clarity on the economic fates of Greece and Spain.

Germany's DAX was up 0.8 percent at 7,293 while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.3 percent at 9,434. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.5 percent higher at 5,823.

Wall Street was poised for a solid opening, with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.4 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.5 percent to close at 8,577.93, snapping a four-day losing streak. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose less than 0.1 percent to 21,148.25. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.4 percent to 1,925.59.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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