The recent slowdown in the economy is expected to boost the number of U.S. business failures this year by 50 percent, a new report shows.

Following declines in 2006, business bankruptcies are projected to increase by 10,000 to 30,000 by the end of the year, according to Euler Hermes ACI, an Owings Mills, Md.-based trade insurance firm. By contrast, global business bankruptcies are expected to rise by just 7 percent, the report said.

This year's increases were blamed on a weaker housing market, higher gas prices, and tighter monetary policies, among other unfavorable economic conditions. At the same time, declines last year came amid federal bankruptcies reform measures, which greatly reduced the number of filed claims, the report said.

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