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TOP STORIES

U.S. budget deal hopes buoy shares and commodities

LONDON - World shares hit three-week peaks and commodities are also higher as comments from a senior U.S. lawmaker raise hopes of a budget deal by year-end to avoid a fiscal crisis in the world's biggest economy.(MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Marc Jones, 500 words)

Italy seen vaulting last hurdle on long-term bond sale

MILAN - Italy is expected to clear its last funding hurdle of 2012 after a year when its heavy sovereign debt burden threatened repeatedly to push it into seeking a bailout. (ITALY-DEBT/, moved, by Francesca Landini, 500 words)

BoE releases financial stability report

LONDON - The Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee publishes its half-yearly Financial Stability Report (BOE-FPC/, expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by David Milliken and Alessandra Prentice, 500 words)

Rio Tinto to slash costs, boost asset sales

MELBOURNE/SYDNEY - Rio Tinto aims to axe $7 billion in costs over the next two years and sell more assets to cushion against weaker commodity prices, while at the same time beefing up output in its lucrative iron ore business. (RIOTINTO-OUTLOOK/ (UPDATE 3, PIX), moved, by Sonali Paul and James Regan, 1,000 words)

+ See also:

- AUSTRALIA-BHP/SUCCESSION (UPDATE 1), moved, by Jim Regan, 900 words

- INDIA-IRONORE/EXPORTS, moved, by Manolo Serapio Jr and Siddesh Mayenkar, 1,250 words

MARKETS

Short sellers target hard hit Europe tech stocks

PARIS - Hedge funds are increasingly betting against European tech shares, targeting companies hit hard by a sluggish global economic outlook and the ones struggling with stiff competition in the mobile business. (MARKETS-EUROPE-STOCKS (TECHS), expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Blaise Robinson, 800 words)

Weaker yen stirs interest in dormant carry trades

LONDON - Expectations of easier monetary policy in Japan, along with a weaker yen, have revived talk of yen-funded carry trades, with investments in some emerging market currencies seen as most attractive. (MARKETS-FOREX/CARRY, moving shortly, by Anooja Debnath, 740 words)

+ See also:

- JAPAN-ECONOMY/BOJ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Leika Kihara, 650 words

Foreigners are biggest losers in China's stocks "casino"

SHANGHAI - Overseas investors betting on China-traded stocks have generally fared worse than local Chinese players over the past five years, according to Thomson Reuters data, underscoring the challenges foreigners face in a market that some say resembles a casino. (MARKETS-CHINA/QFII (PIX), moved, by Samuel Shen and Kazunori Takada, 1,000 words)

ECONOMY

Obama fiscal cliff negotiators headed to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner meets Republicans and Democrats in Washington for talks to resolve the fiscal cliff with few signs of significant movement on either side of the dispute that continues to rattle global markets. (USA-FISCAL/Geithner), moved, by Fred Barbash 500 words)

Swiss growth stronger than expected in third quarter

ZURICH - The Swiss economy grows faster than expected in the third quarter after government spending rises even as sluggish exports help the central bank's policy of capping the safe-haven franc. (SWISS-ECONOMY/GDP (UPDATE 1), moved, by Emma Thomasson, 445 words)

German unemployment rises for eighth straight month in Nov

BERLIN - German unemployment rises for the eighth month running in October in seasonally adjusted terms but gains less than expected and remains close to a post-reunification low, data shows. (GERMANY-UNEMPLOYMENT/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 300 words)

Europe to decide on Japan trade talks

BRUSSELS - EU trade ministers must decide whether to go ahead with negotiations to create a free-trade area with Japan to revive Europe's stagnant economy but face resistance from carmakers who say a deal will damage their industry. (EU-JAPAN/TRADE, expect by 1300 GMT/8 AM ET, 300 words)

"Sans-culotte" minister alarms investors in France

PARIS - Snarling at bosses who shut down factories, bashing low-price Asian exporters and telling an Indian steel baron he can get out of France, the industry minister in Paris is a loose cannon in a government striving to attract investment. (FRANCE-MONTEBOURG/ (PIX), by Catherine Bremer, 900 words)

India bows to pressure, agrees to vote on supermarket reform

NEW DELHI - The Indian government bows to intense opposition pressure and agrees to a vote on its decision to let foreign supermarkets set up shop in India, taking a major step towards ending a deadlock that has paralysed parliament for days. (INDIA-RETAIL/VOTE (UPDATE 2), moved, by Nigam Prusty, 650 words)

COMPANIES

Siemens promises Invensys Rail deal will pay off

FRANKFURT - Germany's Siemens AG promises investors its deal to buy Invensys' rail business for a hefty 1.74 billion pounds will contribute to boosting profits in a tough economy (INVENSYS-SIEMENS/ (UPDATE 1), expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Maria Sheahan, 450 words)

Vivendi gets four offers for Brazil's GVT-sources

SAO PAULO/LONDON - Vivendi SA is examining four non-binding offers above 6 billion euros ($7.75 billion) for its Brazilian broadband company GVT SA, according to a source familiar with the situation. (VIVENDI-GVT/ (EXCLUSIVE, UPDATE 1), moved, by Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Sophie Sassard, 700 words)

Unicredit unit HVB probed on tax evasion

FRANKFURT - HVB UniCredit's German unit HVB said its Munich offices were raided by state prosecutors as part of a tax evasion probe. (UNICREDIT-PROBE/(UPDATE 2) expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Edward Taylor 450 words)

Investors brace for possible Deutsche Telekom dividend cut

FRANKFURT - Investors are bracing for news that Deutsche Telekom will likely join the long list of telecoms companies which will cut their dividend, suffering from shrinking markets and heavy investments in faster networks. 600 words. To land by 1500 GMT. Slug: (DEUTSCHETELEKOM-DIVIDEND/, expect by 1130 GMT/6.30 AM ET, by Harro Ten Wolde 500 words)

Abu Dhabi's TAQA to meet investors for possible bond sale

ABU DHABI - Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA), the state-owned firm buying a number of BP's North Sea assets, has hired five banks to arrange investor meetings ahead of a potential benchmark-size bond sale, the banks says in a document. (EMIRATES-TAQA/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 320 words)

Mitsubishi Heavy, Hitachi to combine power system ops

TOKYO - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi Ltd are to combine their fossil-fuel power generation businesses to compete against bigger overseas rivals Siemens and General Electric Co, which are winning deals even in the Japanese firms' own backyard. (HITACHI MITSUBISHIHEAVY/POWER, moved, by Mari Saito, 600 words)

+ See also:

- BANKOFAYUDHYA-STAKE/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Taiga Uranaka and Saeed Azhar, 650 words

Going global: India's Mahindra races for Aston Martin

MUMBAI - Sports car maker Aston Martin may look like a shiny trophy that makes an awkward fit for Mahindra and Mahindra, the world's biggest tractor maker, but it would help the Indian group realise a long-standing ambition to be a global player. (ASTONMARTIN-MAHINDRA/, moved, by Sumeet Chatterjee and Tony Munroe, 1,050 words)