International News Roundup Mar 31..China Manufacturing Index Rises

By: AP
By: AP

SHANGHAI (AP) -- China says its manufacturing gained momentum for a fourth straight month in March, helped by a recovery in the auto, tobacco and electronics sectors.
The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Sunday that its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose 2.1 points to 53.1 in March, up from February's 51.0 and January's 50.5. A reading above 50 signifies expansion.
The rise in new factory orders suggests a recovery in various sectors, though federation analyst Zhang Liqun said there were still worrying signs of weakness in exports, investment and consumer demand.

TOKYO (AP) -- Revised estimates of the potential impact an offshore earthquake could have on Japan show that much of the country's Pacific coast could be inundated by a tsunami more than 20 meters (65 feet) high.
According to Japanese media reports Sunday, a government-commissioned panel of experts says a tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in the Nankai trough, which runs east of Japan's main island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could top 34 meters (112 feet) at its highest.
An earlier forecast in 2003 put the potential maximum height of such a tsunami at less than 20 meters (66 feet).
The revisions are based on new research following last March's magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami, which devastated a long stretch of Japan's northeastern coast.

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Hundreds of Christian pilgrims are visiting the Holy Land to mark Palm Sunday, the day Jesus Christ made his triumphant return to Jerusalem.
The faithful are expected to march from the Mount of Olives to the holy city behind a white donkey, retracing Jesus' traditional route from 2,000 years ago.
Early Sunday, visitors walked down the cobblestone alleyways of the walled Old City carrying olive branches, palm fronds and crosses.
The day marks the start of Holy Week, which ends the following Sunday with Easter.

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood says it has decided to field the movement's deputy leader and top strategist as its presidential candidate, topping off its success in legislative elections with a bid for the country's most powerful post.
Top leaders of the country's most influential political group announced in a Saturday press conference that it selected Khayrat el-Shater to contest the presidential race set to start in May.
The move reverses a pledge made by the group's leaders not to contest presidential elections to reassure liberals and Western countries fearful of an Islamic takeover.
The move is also likely to alarm the country's military rulers, whose relationship with the Brotherhood has become increasingly confrontational in recent weeks.

PARIS (AP) -- The head of France's counterespionage agency says that Islamist radicals detained in a sweep around the country had a stash of arms, did physical training and may have been preparing a kidnapping.
Police continue to question the 17 people a day after they were taken into custody.
The head of the spy agency tells a newspaper in Marseille (mahr-SAY') that all those arrested were members of a radical Islamist group known as the Knights of Pride that was banned late last month. He says the group has an "impressive" collection of Kalashnikov rifles and other guns along with tear gas canisters and a taser.
The police sweep came about a week after the death of 23-year-old Frenchman Mohamed Merah, who claimed responsibility for three attacks in southern France that killed three paratroopers and a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school.
Police are searching for possible accomplices of Merah, but the spy chief says the group now under investigation is not linked to him.

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba has announced it is declaring next week's Good Friday a holiday following an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Communist government says in an official communique that the decision was made in light of the success of Benedict's "transcendental visit" to the country, which wrapped up Wednesday.
The communique, printed in Saturday's Granma newspaper, says the decision only applies to 2012. The Council of Ministers, Cuba's supreme governing body, will decide later whether to make the holiday permanent.
Benedict made the appeal during a one-on-one with Cuban President Raul Castro.

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