The rising threat of default by heavily indebted European countries spread fear across financial markets and weighed on economies worldwide. As the year came to a close, banks and investors nervously watched Europe's political and financial leaders scramble to prevent the 17-nation eurozone from breaking apart.
Several of the other biggest business stories of the year highlighted the global economy's linkages: A British phone-hacking scandal shook the foundations of Rupert Murdoch's U.S.-based media empire; a nuclear disaster in Japan stymied auto plants in the U.S. and beyond; and the price of gasoline surged because of unrest in the Middle East and growing demand in Asia and Latin America.
In the U.S., political squabbling led to the first credit downgrade for government debt, the economy suffered its fourth straight disappointing year and Apple founder Steve Jobs died.
The European financial crisis was chosen as the top business story of the year by business editors at The Associated Press. The sluggish U.S. economy came in second, followed by the death of Jobs.
Image: Activists of the Occupy Frankfurt movement have set up a fire near the Euro sculpture in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.
Text & Images: AP