UN predicts increased global economic growth; more than 3 percent forecast in 2015 and 2016

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UNITED NATIONS — The global economy will grow by more than 3 percent in 2015 and 2016, the United Nations predicted Wednesday, but that growth will be uneven in some regions.

The U.N.'s annual economic report says growth edged up in 2014 at an estimated 2.6 percent.

The U.N. is forecasting 3.1 percent economic growth in 2015 and 3.3 percent growth in 2016.

The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 report says business investment will be a major driver in the United States, growth in the world's least developed economies will exceed the global average, and strong household consumption will keep East Asia the world's fastest growing region.

But troubles in the eurozone, including high unemployment, continue to hold back Western Europe; China's growth becomes more moderate; and Russia's economic activity is flat after it "came to a standstill" amid tensions over Ukraine.

Long-term unemployment remains a problem in many regions recovering from the Great Recession, the report says.

While "unexpected shocks" like the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East have hurt global recovery, the report says the effects so far have been limited because the global oil markets have remained stable. "Any actual or feared conflict-related decline in oil supplies (has been) offset by oil production increases, notably in the United States," the report says.

Among developed economies, the report says the United States will see 2.8 percent growth in 2015 and 3.1 percent in 2016. The European Union will edge up 1.7 percent in 2015 and 2 percent in 2016. Japan, hurt by lower private consumption caused by a higher consumption tax, will see just 1.2 percent growth in 2015 and 1.1 percent in 2016.

Among developing countries, the U.N. report says China will see 7.0 percent growth in 2015 and 6.8 percent in 2016. India will continue to drive the South Asian region with 5.9 percent growth in 2015 and 6.3 percent in 2016. Large public investment projects are expected to help Latin American countries, with Brazil expected to grow 1.5 percent in 2015 and 2.4 percent in 2016. Mexico will see 3.4 percent growth in 2015 and 3.8 percent in 2016.

"Near-zero growth" is forecast for Russia in 2015, at just 0.2 percent, with 1.2 percent expected in 2016.

Africa has some of the strongest growth numbers, helped by investment and private consumption. Nigeria should see 6.1 percent in 2015 and 5.9 in 2016, and the continent overall is expected to see 4.6 percent in 2015 and 4.9 in 2016.

But the Ebola outbreak that has crushed economies in West Africa's Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

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