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TOP STORIES

US growth hopes help shares shrug off China jitters

LONDON - Signs of improving U.S. economic growth helps ease stock markets into holiday mode, though a credit squeeze in China and gold facing its worst year in over two decades takes the edge off gains. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moving shortly, by Marc Jones, 800 words)

+ See also:

- MARKETS-USA-STOCKS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Ryan Vlastelica, 630 words)

China cash squeeze persists despite c.bank reassurance

SHANGHAI - China's cash market squeeze shows little sign of easing, reinforcing the view the central bank has shifted to tighter monetary policy. (MARKETS-CHINA-7DAYREPO/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Gabriel Wildau, 500 words)

UK retailers battle weather with last minute bargains

LONDON - Britain's retailers are slashing prices as they battle bad weather and shoppers holding out for last-minute bargains to rescue Christmas sales on the High Street. (RETAIL-CHRISTMAS/ (PICTURE), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Paul Sandle and Freya Berry, 500 words)

+ See also:

- USA-RETAIL/HOLIDAYWEEKEND (UPDATE 1), moved, by Phil Wahba, 550 words)

Apple, China Mobile sign long-awaited deal to sell iPhones

NEW YORK/BEIJING - Apple Inc says it has signed a long-awaited agreement with China Mobile Ltd to sell iPhones through the world's biggest network of mobile phone users. (APPLE-CHINAMOBILE/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Ryan Vlastelica and Paul Carsten, 500 words)

INSIGHT

AOL banks on HuffPost to turn profitable next year

NEW YORK - It's the holiday season and Arianna Huffington, the influential woman behind the popular news website that bears her name, is busy buying sweaters - some 700 of them - as gifts to her employees. (AOL-HUFFINGTONPOST/ (INSIGHT, PICTURE, GRAPHIC), moved, by Jennifer Saba, 1,415 words)

MARKETS & INVESTMENT

Investors push companies to flex M&A muscle ... carefully

LONDON - Investors have received billions of euros from European companies so cautious about the economic outlook they could find nothing better to do with spare cash, but many now want boards to snap up rivals instead - and are rewarding them when they do. (COMPANIES-M&A/CASHPILE, moved, by Simon Jessop and Anjuli Davies, 850 words)

Lean years leave banks short of savvy dealmakers

LONDON - Years of quiet deal markets in Europe have left a generation of junior investment bankers with little opportunity to cut their teeth, and, with many senior staff let go, banks are finding themselves short on experience as business stirs again. (INVESTMENTBANKING-EXPERIENCE/, moved, by Kylie MacLellan, 580 words)

Hedge funds lose out to equities, again

LONDON - For hedge funds that made money this year there was only one strategy that really mattered - latching on to the stockmarket rally. (HEDGE-FUNDS/, moved, by Tommy Wilkes, 800 words)

Turkish lira hovers near record low on graft probe

ISTANBUL - Turkey's lira hovers near a record low, hammered by domestic political tensions and the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to start trimming its monetary stimulus programme. (MARKETS-TURKEY/LIRA, moved, 515 words)

+ See also:

- HALKBANK/IRAN (UPDATE 1), moved, 330 words

ECONOMY

In banking reform, Europe zig-zags but still moves forward

BRUSSELS - The European Union does not draw straight lines. Last week's tortuous agreement on a common system for shutting failed banks exemplifies the awkward, often unstable compromises by which Europe advances. (EU-BANKS/REFORM (ANALYSIS), moved, by Paul Taylor, 990 words)

After budget deal, US Congress slices up trillion-dollar pie

WASHINGTON - As Washington empties out for the holidays, a final budget fight will play out in the nearly empty Capitol building as congressional staffers parcel out more than $1 trillion to fund everything from cybersecurity to student loans. (USA-FISCAL/CONGRESS, moved, by Andy Sullivan, 1,025 words)

When China seeks investments, diplomatic rows are no barrier

BEIJING - Two foreign investments in Chinese financial institutions this month suggest China will not turn away cash from countries it has taken diplomatic or trade measures against after blaming them for interference in its domestic affairs. (CHINA-INVESTMENT/, moved, by Adam Rose, 1,000 words)

As Singapore gets richer, more people left behind

SINGAPORE - Every day, through eyes clouded by glaucoma, Peter witnesses the spending power generated by Singapore's economic success, knowing he can only afford to look. The 54-year-old shopping mall security guard is part of Singapore's hidden problem - a growing number of poor living on the margins in one of the world's most expensive cities. (SINGAPORE-POOR/, moved, by Kevin Lim, 850 words)

COMPANIES

Russia's red-hot car market stalls

MOSCOW - A year of disappointing auto sales in Russia has dealers and carmakers worried that a once-red hot market that was set to become Europe's largest may have slipped out of gear. (RUSSIA-CARS/, moved, by Megan Davies, 1,315 words)

+ See also:

- RUSSIA-CARS/SUVS, moved, by Megan Davies, 340 words

Telecom Italia seen giving minorities more say

MILAN - Telecom Italia seen giving minorities more say Telecom Italia is expected to give minority shareholders more say in its future affairs after it managed last week to fend off by only a slim majority an attempt to oust its whole board. (TELECOMITALIA-INVESTORS/, expect by 1500 GMT/10 AM ET, by Danilo Masoni, 500 words)

+ See also:

- MONTEPASCHI/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 390 words

Rolls-Royce says UK begins formal bribery investigation

LONDON - Aerospace and defence group Rolls-Royce says Britain's Serious Fraud Office has launched a formal investigation into concerns raised a year ago of possible bribery and corruption in China and Indonesia. (ROLLSROYCE-SFO/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 350 words)

Salary row causes exit of Belgium's bpost CEO

BRUSSELS - The Chief Executive of Belgian postal group bpost will leave the group after a disagreement with the Belgian government, the company's largest shareholder, over his salary. (BPOST-CEO/ (UPDATE 1), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Robert-Jan Bartunek, 270 words)

S Korea fines Denso, Continental, Bosch units for collusion

SEOUL - South Korea's anti-trust regulator has fined the units of Denso Corp, Continental AG and Bosch a total of 114.6 billion won ($107.99 million), saying they fixed prices of parts sold to Hyundai Motor Co. (AUTOPARTS-CARTEL/SKOREA, moved, 350 words)

Kazakhstan moves to cut stake in BTA in deal with top lender

ALMATY - Kazkommertsbank, Kazakhstan's largest bank by assets, is teaming up with businessman Kenes Rakishev to take control of BTA Bank as the state moves to reduce its stake in the bailed-out lender. (KAZAKHSTAN-BTABANK/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Mariya Gordeyeva, 650 words)

Qatar plans first IPO since 2010 for unit of Qatar Petroleum

DOHA - Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co, a unit of state-owned energy giant Qatar Petroleum, will conduct a 3.2 billion- riyal ($880 million) initial public offering of its shares in the local market next month, officials says. (QATAR-IPO/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Amena Bakr, 520 words)

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