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Britain’s economy also shrank from October to December, by 0.3 percent. Britain has recorded negative growth in four of the past five quarters. The government said it would press on with its austerity plan, though some — notably at the International Monetary Fund — have urged it to ease the pace of cuts.
The Reserve Bank of India reduced its main interest rate for the first time in nine months, to 7.75 percent. The move Zwas expected after inflation fell to a three-year low.
South Korea launched its first satellite, which will collect climate data. In December North Korea dispatched its own first satellite, which suggested progress toward building a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear bomb.
Japan’s defense ministry said its spending would increase by 0.8 percent this year. It is the first increase in Japan’s defense budget in 11 years, and comes amid a territorial spat with China over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Dense smog forced the cancellation of some flights at Beijing’s airport as the Chinese new year was about to start. In response the government shut some factories and cleared fleets of government cars from the streets.
Tens of thousands of gay-marriage supporters demonstrated in Paris, shortly before the French assembly began discussing a bill to legalize same-sex weddings. The crowds were smaller than those at an anti-gay-marriage protest a few weeks ago, though polls suggest that most people in France support the bill.