Germany pledges support for Latvia over economic crisis

Germany pledges support for Latvia over economic crisisBerlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday pledged her country's support for Latvia in its struggle to recover from the economic and financial crisis.

Conditions attached to a rescue package put together by the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Latvia needed to be politically viable, she said after talks with Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis in Berlin.

German ref rejects Barcelona claims after Champions League draw

German ref rejects Barcelona claims after Champions League drawHamburg - German referee Wolfgang Stark Wednesday defended his performance in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final between Barcelona and Chelsea after coming in for criticism from the Spanish side.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola criticised Stark for some of his decisions, saying the referee should have sent off fellow German Michael Ballack for a foul which he claimed warranted a second yellow card.

German government warns of surge in unemployment

unemploymentBerlin - The German Government warned Wednesday of a surge in unemployment after it slashed its 2009 economic projections as Europe's largest economy faces up to its biggest downturn in 60 years. Berlin now expects the nation's economy to shrink by a dramatic 6 per cent this year before the country's GDP returning to growth in 2010 with feeble 0.5-per-cent expansion rate on the back of government stimulus plans.

In the meantime, the government predicts that unemployment will jump by 900,000 next year.

Volkswagen brand slides to 1st quarter loss

VolkswagenWolfsburg, Germany - Germany's biggest carmaker said Wednesday that its core Volkswagen brand posted an operating loss of 279 million euros (368 million dollars) in the first quarter of 2009. The company said sales of VW models slumped 15 per cent to 765,000 and turnover dropped 20.8 per cent to 14.3 billion euros as worldwide demand for cars dropped in the face of the global economic downturn.

The 1st quarter loss compared to an operating profit of 461 million euros in the same quarter of 2008.

Volkswagen's Spanish subsidiary Seat posted a loss of 145 million euros compared to a a profit of 12 million euros in the first quarter of 2008.

Economic mood in Europe rises boosting recovery hopes

Bad ArolsenBerlin- Economic confidence in Europe bounced back in April, according to key report released Wednesday, adding to hopes that the region might now have passed the trough in the current downturn. In a major test of the mood in Europe, the European Commission's closely watched economic sentiment indicator for the 16-member eurozone rose from a record low of 64.7 in March to 67.2 in April, to reach its highest level since January.

However, low inflation means that the European Central Bank is likely to press on next month with its rate-cutting cycle.

Berlin's Jewish museum to expand into former flower market

Germany to help pay for Italy quake church restoration Berlin - Berlin's Jewish museum is to expand into a former flower market hall, the museum announced Wednesday. The 6000-square-metre market building opposite the museum, in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, is to be redeveloped by New York based architect Daniel Libeskind, at a cost of 10 million euros (13 million dollars).

Libeskind won praise for designing the main museum building, shaped like a jagged lightning bolt, said to resemble a broken Star of David.