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TOP STORIES

Solid U.S. job gains seen in December as economy picks up

WASHINGTON - U.S. employment likely increased solidly in December in the latest sign of strengthening fundamentals that look set to put the economy on a faster growth path this year. (USA-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP 1), moved, by Lucia Mutikani, 750 words)

Periphery stocks power on, bonds cool ahead of U.S. data

LONDON - A blistering run in euro zone periphery shares continues, though uncertainty over upcoming U.S. jobs data cools the bloc's bonds and leaves caution ruling most other markets. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4), expect by 1000 GMT/5 AM ET, by Marc Jones, 800 words)

Chinese export growth slows, rosier 2014 seen

BEIJING - China's export growth slows more than expected in December due to a higher comparison base a year earlier and a clamp-down on speculative activities disguised as export deals, missing the official target on foreign trade. (CHINA-ECONOMY/TRADE (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moved, by Xiaoyi Shao and Kevin Yao, 700 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-TRADE/COMMODITIES (WRAPUP 1), moved, by Fayen Wong, 885 words

Standard Chartered's revamp suggests more changes ahead

LONDON/DUBLIN - Standard Chartered's top 500 bankers gather in Singapore next week for their annual strategy meeting with an unprecedented degree of uncertainty swirling around the former stock market darling. (STANDARDCHARTERED/ expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Steve Slater and Carmel Crimmins, 700 words)

INVESTMENT

Interest rate rises may not be so far off

LONDON - The era of money printing is drawing to a close and the start of the new interest rate hike cycle may arrive sooner than people expect. But investors may not need to panic. (INVESTMENT-RATES/(ANALYSIS), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Natsuko Waki, 800 words)

China a better bet than Japan for Asia hedge fund investors

HONG KONG - For investors in Asian hedge funds, it was China and not the region's hottest major market, Japan, that provided the best bang for the buck in 2013 - a result set to ensure greater capital inflows into steadily growing China-focused funds. (CHINA-HEDGEFUNDS/, moved, by Nishant Kumar, 750 words)

ECONOMY

UK manufacturing, industrial output unexpectedly flat

LONDON - British manufacturing and broader industrial output are unchanged in November and construction falls sharply, tempering hopes that the economic recovery is broadening, official data shows. (BRITAIN ECONOMY/MANUFACTURING, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-RETAIL/BRC, moved, by David Milliken, 355 words

French economy rebounded in late 2013, figures suggest

PARIS - French GDP likely grew strongly in the final quarter of last year and industrial output surged in November, figures show, marking a welcome turnaround for the euro zone's second largest economy. (FRANCE-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 360 words)

Spain's industrial output strongest in nearly three years

MADRID - Spain's industrial output rose in November, its biggest yearly jump in nearly three years, official data shows boosted by a favourable annual comparison after tax hikes last year. (SPAIN-ECONOMY/OUTPUT (UPDATE 1), moved, 170 words)

Thailand's "Teflon" economy put to the test

BANGKOK - It has been nicknamed "Teflon Thailand" - an economy seemingly impervious to any lasting effects from regular spasms of violent political unrest. But with protesters vowing to "shut down" Bangkok on January 13 in their two-month-old bid to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the nickname seems more like a taunt. (THAILAND-ECONOMY/, moved, by Orathai Sriring and Pairat Temphairojana, 1,100 words)

COMPANIES

UK banks accelerate payouts for swaps mis-selling

LONDON - Britain's biggest banks up the pace of compensation to small firms mis-sold complicated interest-rate hedging products, but have still paid out only 5 percent of the 3 billion pounds they have set aside. (BANKS-MISSELLING/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Matt Scuffham, 600 words)

VW poised for SUV go-ahead as U.S. slide threatens goals

BERLIN/DETROIT - Volkswagen is preparing to build sport utility vehicles in North America as it struggles to conquer a market whose resistance is threatening its bid to be world No.1. (AUTOSHOW/VW-US (PREVIEW), expect by 1000 GMT/5 AM ET, by Andreas Cremer and Bernie Woodall, 1,000 words)

Swatch sees "dynamic" 2014 growth after market share gains

ZURICH - Swiss watches group Swatch says it expects "dynamic growth" this year, easing concerns of a downturn in key export destination China after market share gains in its core watch business helped sales rise 9.1 percent last year. (SWATCH-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), expect by 1000 GMT/5 AM ET, by Silke Koltrowitz, 600 words)

Infosys Q3 profit rises 21 pct, beats estimates

MYSORE, India - India's Infosys Ltd raises its sales growth outlook for the year after posting a higher-than-expected 21 percent rise in quarterly net profit as improving U.S. and European economies revive demand for outsourcing services. (INFOSYS-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, 350 words)

Wearable gadgets not ready for prime time, tech watchers say

LAS VEGAS/SINGAPORE - Despite the hoopla, wearable gadgets like wristwatches for checking your text messages or eyeglasses that capture video are unlikely to make a splash with consumers anytime soon, given the clumsy designs, high prices and technological constraints of many of the current offerings. (CES-WEARABLES/ (PICTURE), moved, by Noel Randewich and Jeremy Wagstaff, 900 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-GAMESCONSOLES/ (PICTURE, TV), moved, by Paul Carsten, Sophie Knight and Malathi Nayak, 1,000 words