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TOP STORIES

EU attempts tricky balancing act in toxic budget row

BRUSSELS - European Union negotiators believe they are close to securing British and German backing for a deal on nearly a trillion euros of spending over the next seven years, but last minute concessions may be needed to secure French and Polish support. (EU-BUDGET/(UPDATE 1, TV,PIX), moving shortly, by Charlie Dunmore, 835 words)

+ See also:

- EU-SUMMITS/TORTURE (PIX), moved, by Luke Baker, 925 words

- EU-BUDGET/WASTE, moved, by Barbara Lewis and Charlie Dunmore, 800 words

Euro zone in deep downturn as China, U.S tick up

LONDON - The euro zone economy is on course for its deepest downturn since early 2009, while Chinese factories returns to growth last month bringing better news for the world economy, business surveys show. (GLOBAL-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP 1), moved, by Andy Bruce, 600 words)

Spain starts 2013 funding with 3.9 bln-euro bond sale

MADRID - Spain sells nearly 4 billion euros of bonds with ease at an auction that kicks off its funding programme for a daunting 2013 when Madrid must shoulder regional debt needs and will struggle to meet deficit targets. (SPAIN-DEBT/(UPDATE 1), moved, by Paul Day, 400 words)

Bonus hopefuls in for shock as banks dole out more doughnuts

LONDON/HONG KONG/NEW YORK - In a year awash with scandals, strategy U-turns and job cuts, most bankers know bonuses are set to tumble, with reward pots at top firms likely to fall by up to 30 percent. But many are still in denial about their own payouts. (BANK-BONUSES/, expect by 1530 GMT/10.30 AM ET, graphic, by Sarah White and Lawrence White and Jed Horowitz, 1,200 words)

MARKETS

Shares gain as global economic outlook brightens

LONDON - World share markets extend a week-long rally as manufacturing surveys in China and the United States boost confidence over global growth and euro zone data did nothing to change the weak outlook for the region. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 6, GRAPHIC), moved, by Richard Hubbard, 730 words)

ECONOMY

BRUSSELS - Greece has taken all the steps necessary to secure its next tranche of aid and euro zone finance ministers should be able to sign off definitively on the assistance on Monday, the European commissioner for economic affairs says. (GREECE-REHN/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 500 words)

Greek economy pays high price for its high prices

ATHENS - Signs across Athens advertise property for rent or sale. One in three shops has closed. So it is one of the mysteries of Greece's economic depression that prices for some things are among the highest in Europe. (GREECE-ECONOMY/PRICES (ANALYSIS, PIX, TV, GRAPHIC), expect by 1500 GMT/10.00 AM ET, by Alan Wheatley and Karolina Tagaris, 1500 words)

+ See also:

- GREECE-ECONOMY/MILK (PIX, TV, GRAPHIC), moving shortly, by Karolina Tagaris and Alan Wheatley, 980 words

COMPANIES

Santander keeps strategy of spinning off subsidiaries

MADRID - Spain's Santander keeps focused on its strategy of squeezing cash out of its American subsidiaries to help fight a recession at home by considering flotations even at the expense of being less profitable. (BANCOSANTANDER/IPO(UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Jesus Aguado, 400 words)

Reckitt clinches deal to buy Schiff for $1.4 billion

LONDON - Reckitt Benckiser has signed a deal to acquire U.S. group Schiff Nutrition for $1.4 billion, winning an entry into the $30 billion vitamins and nutrition supplements market after beating out Germany's Bayer. (SCHIFF-RECKITT/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Ben Hirschler, 540 words)

Barclays quits London Metal Exchange open outcry trade

LONDON - Major commodities player Barclays quit open outcry floor trading at the London Metal Exchange (LME), downgrading its membership at the world's biggest marketplace for industrial metals to cut costs. (LME-BARCLAYS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Eric Onstad and Melanie Burton, 770 words)

Irish charms keep U.S. giants sweet for now

DUBLIN - U.S. business chiefs gathered in the Irish capital on Thursday to give thanks for taxes, rain and the financial crisis -- three factors that have helped produce a bumper year in their favourite corner of Europe. (IRELAND/MULTINATIONALS, expect by 1600 GMT/11.00 AM ET, by Lorraine Turner, 900 words

Brazil a wild card in Carrefour's search for cash

PARIS - A lot has changed for French retail giant Carrefour since its former boss made an ill-fated attempt to snap up Brazil's top supermarket chain last year. (CARREFOUR-BRAZIL/, moved, by Dominique Vidalon and Pascale Denis, 1,100 words)

SABMiller boosted by emerging markets, Foster's

LONDON - SABMiller, the world's second-biggest brewer, meets expectations with a 12 percent rise in first-half profit, and says strong growth in Africa and Latin America should continue during its second half. (SABMILLER/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 340 words)

Telecom Italia at a strategy crossroads

MILAN - Telecom Italia faces key decisions in coming weeks on the future of its domestic business and its mobile business in Brazil, which could bring big changes to the debt-laden former national monopoly. (TELECOMITALIA-STRATEGY/, moved, by Danilo Masoni, 700 words)

Fiat Industrial wins over CNH board with improved bid

MILAN - Italy's Fiat Industrial has won over the board of its U.S. tractor and construction machinery unit CNH with an improved $1.5 billion bid that will create the world's third-largest capital goods group by sales. (FIAT INDUSTRIAL/(UPDATE 2), moved, 300 words)

Fitch cuts Sony, Panasonic debt ratings to 'junk' status

TOKYO - Ratings agency Fitch downgrades the debt ratings of Japan's Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp to "junk" status, citing weakness in their consumer electronics and TV operations, further diminishing the lustre of the once-great Japanese brands. (SONY PANASONIC/RATINGS (UPDATE 2), moved, by James Topham, 500 words)

+ See also:

- APPLE-SAMSUNG/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 335 words

China's power grid plans: a $250 bln white elephant?

BEIJING - China's State Grid Corp is lobbying hard for approval of a $250 billion upgrade plan that it says would make the nation's grid an international trailblazer, but which critics say is too costly and could expose the system to blackouts. (CHINA-POWER/GRID (PIX), moved, by Charlie Zhu, 1,000 words)

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