Global business

India's central bank lowered its main interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 7.5 percent. It was the second cut this year, but markets were surprised by the timing, coming soon after the legal framework was approved for the Reserve Bank of India to set official inflation targets for the first time. An initial target was set at 6 percent until January 2016, with 4 percent the aim after that within a 2 to 6 percent range. Inflation has slowed considerably in India over the past two years. It was an annual rate of 5.1 percent in January.

The rate cut followed the Indian government's annual budget, which included plans to rationalize the country's labyrinthine tax system and to reduce the corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

Consumer prices in the eurozone fell by 0.3 percent year on year in February, the third straight month of negative inflation in the currency bloc. The unemployment rate dropped to 11.2 percent, the lowest since April 2012 (though in Greece it was 25.8 percent and in Spain 23.4 percent).

Brazil's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point to 12.75 percent, a six-year high. Although other countries are fretting about deflation, Brazil's inflation rate soared in January to 7.14 percent.

In a big victory for London's financial sector, a court in the European Union overturned a decision by the European Central Bank that would have forced clearing houses to relocate their euro-denominated business to within the eurozone. The ECB had argued it could not help clearing houses that operate outside the currency area if they got into trouble, but the court ruled that the central bank does not have the power to intervene.

A German court ordered Jürgen Fitschen, one of the two co-chief executives at Deutsche Bank, to stand trial next month in the legal saga related to the collapse of the Kirch media group in 2002. Fitschen will share the defendants' bench with two former chief executives, Josef Ackermann and Rolf Breuer, and two former board members.

Actavis, a drugs company, issued $21 billion in bonds, making it the second-biggest corporate-debt offering behind Verizon's $49 billion bond sale in 2013. Actavis issued the bonds to fund its acquisition of Allergan, the maker of Botox.

AbbVie agreed to buy Pharmacyclics, which specializes in cancer treatments, in a $21 billion deal.

Toyota took steps to diversify senior management by appointing its first non-Japanese vice president as well as its first foreign female executive and first black executive (the latter two are based in America). Like other Japanese companies, Toyota is noted for its lack of foreign staff, even though 74 percent of its sales come from abroad. The Japanese government is pushing for more corporate diversity and wants 30 percent of Japan's senior executive jobs to be held by women by 2020.

Political economy

Ukraine's central bank raised its key interest rate from 19.5 percent to 30 percent in an effort to halt the slide of the hryvnia. The currency has lost 80 percent of its value since April 2014, when the war in eastern Ukraine broke out. The U.N. estimates that 6,000 people have since died in the conflict. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament passed a slate of reforms demanded by the IMF as conditions for a $17.5 billion bailout package.

The Council of Europe reprimanded France for failing to outlaw the smacking of children by parents. It wants all European countries to ban the practice, but French law recognizes a right for parents to discipline their children.

Spain's finance minister said Greece would need a third bailout package of about $50 billion after its current program ends in June. The finance ministers of Germany and the Netherlands denied that a new bailout was being discussed.