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South Africa's rand weakened against the dollar on Tuesday, tracking the euro lower amid broadly poor investor sentiment towards emerging markets. The rand has been retreating from two-month highs hit last week as tensions in Ukraine rumble on and as investors worry about a slowdown in China, a major consumer of South Africa's commodities exports. Comments from the European Central Bank that the market missed its message that it could still act to stimulate the economy depressed the euro. "Ahead of the local Q4 current account data on Wednesday, the global backdrop will continue to drive foreign exchange momentum," said Anisha Arora, emerging market analyst at 4Cast.
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The Seychelles economy will grow by 3.7 percent in 2014 following 3.5 percent growth last year, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday. "IMF staff expects the economy to continue to strengthen this year, despite an uncertain global economic environment. Growth is projected to reach 3.7 percent," the International Monetary Fund said in a statement.
Britain's economic growth quickened slightly in the three months to the end of February and is on course to recover its pre-recession peak over the course of this year, a leading economic research body estimated on Tuesday. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said Britain's economy likely grew by 0.8 percent in the three months to the end of February, compared with 0.7 percent in the three months to the end of January. That implies Britain's economy is now only less than 1 percent below its pre-recession peak in January 2008, NIESR said - although that is still a worse situation than almost all of Britain's major economic peers. Britain's recovery to date has been driven by household spending and a revival in the property market, and the Bank of England wants to see more exports and business investment driving growth this year.
By Kelly Twedell FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (Reuters) - The trial of a U.S. Army general charged with sexual assault was delayed indefinitely after the prosecution's case hit a stumbling block when a judge ruled that politics fueled the decision to court-martial the military commander. The judge, Colonel James Pohl, found on Monday that politics had been unlawfully injected into the rare court-martial of Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, but refused to dismiss the sexual assault charges. Sinclair was charged with forcible sodomy based on allegations by a female U.S. Army captain that could send the 51-year-old general to prison for life. The judge said he would allow Sinclair to renew a previous offer, rejected by military leaders at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for the most serious allegations of coercive sex acts being dropped.
By Stephen Kalin FARAYA, Lebanon (Reuters) - The mountains north of Beirut, usually a snowy winter playground for skiers and other tourists vital for Lebanon's services-based economy, are brown, muddy and completely empty this season. Hotel rooms lie vacant and winter sports rental shops are idle, with the lack of snow deterring even the keenest visitors. "This is the first time the slopes have not opened at all," said Joost Komen, general manager of Intercontinental Mzaar, the largest hotel and ski lodge in Faraya. "That there is limited snow, it happens.
South Africa is likely to have adequate electricity supply in around two years, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Tuesday, less than a week after the first rolling blackouts in Africa's biggest economy since 2008. State power utility Eskom was forced to impose last week's supply cuts after heavy rains wet coal stockpiles at coal-fired power stations, causing a temporary supply shortfall on the already stretched national grid. South Africa is building three new power stations, including two massive coal-fired plants at Medupi and Kusile, and has approved projects worth 110 billion rand from independent power producers to bolster energy supply.
By David Milliken and Andy Bruce LONDON (Reuters) - Bank of England Governor Mark Carney signalled he was not concerned that Britain's economy was close to overheating, despite a strong recovery since last year, putting himself in the dovish camp among policymakers. Speaking to lawmakers on Tuesday, Carney said the amount of spare capacity in the economy was probably slightly more than 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, suggesting the BoE can hold off on raising interest rates for longer. Carney also said Britain's natural rate of unemployment could be less than the Bank has estimated, meaning the labour market can strengthen further without pushing up inflation.
By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Voters on Florida's Gulf Coast head to the polls Tuesday to fill a vacant U.S. Congressional seat in a special election watched by both major parties for what it portends for November when all 435 congressional seats will be up for grabs. Turnout is key," Susan MacManus, a longtime political analyst and professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told Reuters less than 24 hours before polls opened. Florida's is a big swing state, with 27 seats in the House of Representatives, tied with New York state for the third largest delegation in the nation, and behind only California and Texas. Democrats hold the advantage in the more liberal south of the state and Republicans prevail in the conservative north, while central Florida is more evenly split.