EUROPE

U.S. Says It Is Open to Airplane Subsidy Talks

The United States said it remains open to negotiations in its plane subsidies dispute with the European Union, despite the launch of a new Airbus jet last week with pledges of European government support. U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said Washington would prefer a negotiated settlement to ongoing litigation at the World Trade Organization -- but only if such a deal eliminates launch aid to Airbus.

E.U. Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said he had yet to talk to Portman about the dispute. "Our continued preference is to negotiate," he said.

E.U. Economic Official Stresses Vigilance

Europe will have to get used to high oil prices and keep a sharp eye on inflation, European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said.

His words echoed those of the European Central Bank, which last week kept interest rates steady at 2 percent, stressing the need for "strong vigilance" on higher prices.

Almunia delivered a mixed report on Europe's slow economic recovery, saying the European Commission expected stronger growth in the second half of the year. Economic sentiment is rising, and investor confidence is improving, but consumers are still reluctant to spend.

Regulators Reshape Lending Proposal

European Union regulators scaled back a measure to spur cross-border competition in consumer lending after lawmakers and national governments rejected more ambitious plans to unify borrower-protection rules. The European Commission recast the proposal to make safeguards, including a 14-day withdrawal period and a right to pay off loans early, more consistent rather than identical in the 25-country bloc.

The measure would define how to calculate annual percentage rates and would set uniform standards for information given to prospective borrowers. It would also permit some other variations, such as credit card lenders' liability for faulty products in Britain.

China

U.S. Treasury Secretary Urges Action on Yuan

U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow urged China to take further steps to strengthen its currency. Snow applauded China's step to unlink the yuan to the dollar but said more is needed.

"We are anxious to see the Chinese fulfill the commitment they made to allow market forces to play a larger role in setting their currency's value over time," Snow told a news conference in Tokyo. "They've gotten on the path that allows them to do so, and we'd like to see China continue on that path."

Compiled from news service reports.