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News Wrap: China’s Economic Growth at Three-Year Low

July 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The stock market surged higher today in a rally fueled by shares in big banks. The Dow Jones industrial average snapped a six-day losing streak, gaining nearly 204 points to close at 12,777. The Nasdaq rose 42 points to close above 2,908. For the week, the Dow gained a fraction of a percent; the Nasdaq fell 1 percent.

China’s roaring economic growth hit a three-year low in the year’s second quarter. New data today showed expansion there slowed to an annual rate of 7.6 percent, still far above growth rates in the West. The Chinese government denied the slowdown was actually much worse.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the Moody’s rating firm downgraded the country’s bond rating by two notches. The news sparked anger on the streets in Rome.

POMPEO TORCHIA, resident of Rome (through translator): The ratings agency has been running the Italian political economy for the last several months. I presume they pressured the Berlusconi government to fall, and now they’re trying to create a hole in the boat of the Monti government.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Despite the downgrade, Italy’s latest bond auction went off relatively smoothly.

And in Spain, civil servants turned out in Madrid to protest new austerity measures. They waved flags and signs decrying the added wage cuts and tax hikes.

A popular dissident blogger in Ethiopia was sentenced to 18 years in prison today. Journalist Eskinder Nega was among 24 opposition activists found guilty on terror charges last month. An Ethiopian court ruled that online articles written by Nega were meant to stir up violence. The opposition accused the government of using terror laws to silence dissent.

In Myanmar, three U.N. staffers are now facing unspecified criminal charges. U.N. officials said today the accused are Myanmar nationals working for the U.N. refugee agency. They were among 10 aid workers arrested last month during violence between Muslims and Buddhists.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.