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TOP STORIES

U.S. jobs picture improving, manufacturing may be slowing

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, offering signs of a steady improvement in the labor market. While the jobs picture is brightening a bit, factory activity appears to be losing momentum (USA-ECONOMY/JOBS (WRAPUP 1), by Lucia Mutikani, 580 words)

Merkel seals German grand coalition deal with the SPD

BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel clinches a coalition deal with the Social Democrats that rolls back painful reforms of the German welfare state but preserves Berlin's strict approach toward struggling European partners (GERMANY-COALITION (UPDATE 3), pix, tv, moved, by Andreas Rinke and Alexandra Hudson, 995 words)

MARKETS

German government deal boosts euro, helps stocks

NEW YORK - Agreement to form a German coalition government boosts the euro to a four-year high against the yen and helps buoy stocks around the world, already well bid on signs of more central bank liquidity (MARKETS-GLOBAL (WRAPUP 7, GRAPHIC), moved, 825 words)

+ See also:

- MARKETS-OIL/ (UPDATE 5), moved

- MARKETS-FOREX/ (UPDATE 5), moved

- MARKETS-USA/STOCKS (UPDATE 3), moved

ECONOMY

Consumers drive British growth again, investment up too

LONDON - Britain's economic growth broadened a bit in the third quarter of 2013 as companies increased investment but strong consumer spending remains the main driver of growth, leaving the recovery still vulnerable (BRITAIN-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 1), moved by William Schomberg and David Milliken, 670 words)

OTHER INTERNATIONAL

Madame Nouy set to take on Europe's banks

FRANKFURT - The woman set to police Europe's banks has spent much of her 40-year career rising through the ranks of French financial supervision, once a bastion of male domination (ECB/BANKS, moved, by Eva Taylor, 1,500 words)

Repsol's board gathers to ratify Argentine deal

MADRID - The fractious board of Spanish oil company Repsol looks likely to settle an 18-month conflict with Argentina after Buenos Aires offered $5 billion in compensation for assets it seized last year - less than half what the Spanish group had demanded and in bonds, not cash (REPSOL-YPF/, moved, by Tracy Rucinski and Carlos Ruaqno, 940 words

Surviving Chairman Ma: Life in the shadow of China's Alibaba

SHANGHAI - In a small research lab in Palo Alto, California, flanked by Hewlett-Packard Co and Stanford University, China's largest electronics retailer is learning how to compete online. (CHINA-ECOMMERCE/, moved, by Adam Jourdan, 1,150 words)

Five years after war, Georgia defies Russia over Europe

TBILISI - Five years after it fought a war with Russia, Georgia is preparing to defy its former Soviet masters again by initialing an accord to strengthen ties with Europe. The South Caucasus country's economy small, but it is important to the EU because it hosts pipelines that carry Caspian gas and oil to Europe (UKRAINE-EU/GEORGIA (INTERVIEW, PIX), moved, by Margarita Antidze, 750 words)

+ See also

- UKRAINE-EU/ (Q&A), moved

COMPANIES

No checkouts, no chocolate:Online shopping hits impulse buys

LONDON - For consumers, one of the great things about shopping online is bypassing the line to check out. For producers of the candy, magazines and drinks often sold there, missing out on impulse purchases is a problem (RETAIL-CONSUMER/CHECKOUTS (ANALYSIS, PIX), moved, by Martinne Geller and Emma Thomasson, 1,100 words)

Alitalia: a symbol of Italy's bid to create market economy

MILAN - In 2008, Maurizio Prato, then chairman of Alitalia, said only an "exorcist" could save the Italian airline. Five years later, the near-bankrupt carrier is still waiting for its miracle worker (ALITALIA-AIRFRANCE/, moved, by Agnieszka Flak, 1,100 words)

ALSO IN THE NEWS

For U.S. stores it is ugly out there-in more ways than one

CHATHAM, N.J./LOS ANGELES/WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The 2013 holiday shopping season may end up being remembered for its ugly sweaters and, for many retailers, even uglier discounts. With growing online competition, weak consumer confidence and no fashion must-haves, most U.S. retailers will have to offer both big discounts and stellar service to get people to spend freely (USA-HOLIDAYS/STORE-TOURS (PREVIEW, PIX) (UPDATE 1), moved, by Dhanya Skariachan, Lisa Baertlein and Phil Wahba, 965 words)

JPMorgan tried, failed to satisfy Fed on metals warehousing

LONDON/NEW YORK - The U.S. Federal Reserve was pressing JPMorgan Chase & Co to distance itself from its metals warehousing business more than a year ago, documents seen by Reuters show, long before the issue became a focal point in the debate over Wall Street's role in physical commodities trading (JPMORGAN-FED/HENRYBATH (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by David Sheppard and Josephine Mason, 1,500 words)

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