TRADE

U.S. Extends Stainless Steel Duties

The U.S. International Trade Commission extended for five years duties on imports of stainless steel from six countries, while lifting tariffs on those imports from France and Britain. The commission voted 4 to 2 to maintain duties on the largest exporters of stainless steel sheet and strip: Mexico, Italy and Taiwan, and on Germany, Japan and South Korea. Since the duties began in 1999, imports of those products from the eight countries dropped from $405 million a year to as low as $169 million. The duties ranged from less than 1 percent to as much as 59 percent on products used to make automotive trim and exhaust systems.

EUROPE

Bank Official Dismisses Rate Speculation

Sweden's central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point, to 1.5 percent, spurring speculation that the European Central Bank might do the same. But bank council member Christian Noyer dismissed as "crazy" the suggestion that an interest-rate reduction alone could boost short-term growth in the dozen nations that share the euro.

E.U. Aid Supports Rural Development

European Union agriculture ministers agreed to spend $15.51 billion a year to support rural development. The program, to run from 2007 to 2013, will focus on production of better-quality food, promoting job creation in the countryside and protecting the rural environment.

BRITAIN

Some Fraud Cases to Be Tried Without Juries

The British government plans to do away with juries on prosecutions of some serious fraud charges because the trials are too long, complex and expensive, said Peter Goldsmith, Britain's attorney general. The government will allow non-jury trials when the prosecution asks for it, the judge on the case agrees and the lord chief justice, the country's most senior judge, approves, Goldsmith said. He estimated that the change will affect 15 to 20 cases a year.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.