BC-EU--European News Digest at 1200 GMT, EU

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Associated Press

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 29 at 6:00 AM

TOP STORIES ON TUESDAY, JAN. 29, 2013

KAZAKHSTAN-PLANE CRASH

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A passenger jet carrying at least 20 people crashed Tuesday in heavy fog near Kazakhstan's principal city, Almaty, killing all on board, the airline and officials said. The Kazakh Prosecutor-General's office listed 21 people as having been killed. The SCAT airline said the plane carried 15 passengers and five crew. By Peter Leonard.

ITALY-KINGMAKER LOMBARDY

MILAN — One region looms large over Italy's upcoming election: Lombardy. The nation's industrial powerhouse and home to its financial capital Milan, the region generates a fifth of Italy's wealth and boasts one-sixth of its population. The way Lombardy goes will likely determine whether the eurozone's third largest economy gets the stable government it needs to take strong action against its economic crisis. By Colleen Barry.

BULGARIA-SHOOTING

SOFIA, Bulgaria — Police say gunmen have seriously wounded a convicted underworld boss outside a court house in downtown Sofia. Zlatomir Ivanov was on his way to the Sofia Court House on Tuesday when the shooter opened fire, probably from an opposite building, a senior police officer said. Ivanov and one of his bodyguards were both hit as they walked up the stairs to enter the court.

BRITAIN-QUEEN ELIZABETH

LONDON — The abdication Queen Beatrix of Netherlands sparks some specultation about whether Queen Elizabeth II, at 86, might follow suit and step down so her son Charles could become King. It is thought to be unlikely. By Gregory Katz.

WORLD MARKETS

LONDON — Markets were relatively becalmed Tuesday for the second day running as investors awaited key data on the U.S. economy that could indicate whether the optimistic start to the year will continue. Many stock indexes around the world have hit multi-year highs and the Dow Jones industrial average is not far off its all-time peak, achieved in 2007 just before the financial crisis started baring its teeth. By Pan Pylas.

WHATSAPP-PRIVACY

Regulators in the Netherlands and Canada say that popular messaging application WhatsApp is violating internationally accepted privacy norms by stockpiling phone numbers belonging to people who don't even use the service. Officials in both countries say that WhatsApp Inc. is going through its users' address books and copying every single phone number before transmitting them to the Mountain View, California-based company's servers.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — A closely-watched survey shows German consumers are more optimistic, buoyed by the current calm in financial markets and expectations the economy will gradually revive over the course of the year. The GfK institute reported Tuesday that its forward-looking indicator rose to 5.8 points for January, up from a revised 5.7 in January.

POLAND-ECONOMY

WARSAW, Poland — Government statistics show that Poland's economic growth likely slowed to 2 percent in 2012, down from 4.3 percent the year before, underlying concerns that one of Europe's fastest growing economies has fallen victim to the region's economic troubles. The figure, a preliminary estimate published Tuesday by the Central Statistical Office, was in line with the expectations of many economists.

SPAIN-FINANCIAL CRISIS

MADRID — Empty bottles, cans and trash are piling up at Madrid's airport as cleaners enter the fifth day of a strike to protest proposed layoffs. The strike continues to affect terminals 1, 2 and 3 on Tuesday, a day after a similar strike at Terminal 4, the airport's main terminal, was suspended after one day.

AP Photos.

ITALY-FINANCIAL CRISIS

MILAN — Italy raised €8.5 billion ($11.44 billion) in an auction of six-month bonds, as markets continue to shrug off any concern about political uncertainty in the country ahead of next month's elections. Borrowing rates dropped to 0.731 percent from 0.949 percent a month earlier. Demand was 1.65 times the offer, up from 1.57 percent.

ROMANIA-IMF

BUCHAREST, Romania — The International Monetary Fund official has called on the Romanian government implement deeper structural reforms and to apply for more European Union funding to encourage economic growth. Erik de Vrijer, the IMF's chief of mission for Romania said Tuesday: "Growth is lower than what it could be even though what it could be is lower than what it should be."

SOC--WINTER FOOTBALL

PARIS — Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says it is "not logical" that European clubs play football in the cold and snow and he is predicting a scheduling revolution.

SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP

LONDON — Manchester City takes on bottom-place Queens Park Rangers looking to go two points behind Manchester United, a day before the English Premier League leaders are in action. In the night's other games, relegation-threatened Aston Villa and Newcastle meet, Stoke hosts Wigan and Swansea is at Sunderland. By Rob Harris

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