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Countries Around the World Move to Further Boost Economies

Countries around the world are outlining new plans to protect their financial systems from a global economic crisis that shows no signs of recovery.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth said Wednesday her government will propose new laws to protect bank depositors and boost social welfare programs. She introduced Prime Minister Gordon Brown's legislative plans in a speech to parliament.

In Thailand, the central bank slashed interest rates Wednesday by a full point for the first time since mid-2007, to try to revive the economy after months of political unrest.

Europe's two leading central banks also are expected to cut interest rates on Thursday.

A survey released in Europe today shows that service sector activity in the 15 nations using the euro has hit its lowest level in the survey's 10-year history.

The sector activity index dropped to 42.5 in November from 45.8 in October, showing the effects of the global financial crisis and a drop in consumer demand.

The German automaker's association, VDA, said today that domestic sales of new cars are heading for their lowest levels since the reunification of eastern and western Germany in 1990.

The association forecast sales of new cars in 2009 would drop to about 2.9 million from the 3.1 million expected this year.

In South Korea, the central bank considered measures to help troubled banks survive a cash crunch as it also announced a drop in foreign currency reserves.

The Bank of Korea said foreign reserves dropped last month to $200.5 billion - the eighth straight month of declines.

Foreign reserves are central bank assets that are held in different overseas currencies, like the dollar, euro or yen. They are used to back a central bank's liabilities.

China's sovereign wealth fund announced today that it has no plans to invest more in Western financial institutions because of their governments' uncertain policies.

Speaking in Hong Kong, the chairman of China Investment Corporation, Lou Jiwei, said the fund does not dare to invest in the financial institutions because it does not know what problems they have.

China's sovereign wealth fund has suffered heavy losses since making initial investments in major U.S. companies, Blackstone Group and Morgan Stanley, whose shares have plunged with the global economic meltdown.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.