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(Reuters) – A U.S. recovery is likely to begin this autumn, the worst of the crisis has passed and it is "reasonable to be optimistic for 2010," internet search giant Google’s chief executive Eric Schmidt said on Friday.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in southern France, Schmidt said U.S. jobless claims indicated "the beginning of the bottom."

"The rate of jobless claims is decreasing although the absolute number is increasing," he explained.

Schmidt said he did not want to comment on a report that Google had set up a team of engineers to study the technical specifications of Bing, the search engine launched recently by Google rival Microsoft, as he had not seen it.

But he added: "Bing is a competitor. We have absolutely looked at Bing; we have actually studied what they do as Microsoft studied what Google does."

Microsoft’s Bing search engine has been winning U.S. market share from its rivals but is still trailing Google and Yahoo Inc.

Bing will be launched in the UK in the autumn and a test version is already available in Europe.

(Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer; Writing by Helen Massy-Beresford; editing by John Stonestreet)