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China's bank lending halved in February from January, the government said Monday, amid worries over a near-default on a financial product structured by the risky trust sector. Domestic banks extended 644.5 billion yuan ($105.0 billion) in new loans last month, up 24.5 billion yuan from the same month last year, the central bank said in a statement. The February lending figure fell short of a median forecast of 740 billion yuan, according to a poll of economists by Dow Jones Newswires. New loans had reached a huge 1.3 trillion yuan in January, previous People's Bank of China figures showed, with analysts attributing the spike to banks front-loading lending at the beginning of the year.
Germany's reliance on Russian natural gas poses a threat to European sovereignty, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk warned Monday amid rising East-West tensions over Ukraine. "Germany's reliance on Russian gas can effectively limit European sovereignty. I have no doubt," Tusk told reporters, days ahead of a Warsaw visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The top European economy buys around one third of its oil and gas from Russia and has extensive trade and investment links with the vast country to the east.