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TOP STORIES

Shell warns of "significant" profit miss

LONDON - Royal Dutch Shell issues a "significant" profit warning, detailing a string of problems across the board and the extent of the challenges facing the oil major's new boss Ben van Beurden who took over two weeks ago. (SHELL-WARNING/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Kate Holton, 650 words)

Shares hover at highs as periphery rally grinds on

LONDON - European shares hover at 5-1/2 year highs as a fourth weekly gain in five and a third on the spin for Portuguese and Spanish bonds feeds improving sentiment towards the region's Mediterranean rim. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4) expect by 1015 GMT/5.15 AM ET, by Marc Jones, 750 words)

Peripheral equity surge to stumble over earnings

LONDON - European fourth-quarter earnings are set to disappoint consensus expectations, according to the most accurate analysts, potentially threatening the new year stock rally focused on Spain and Italy. (MARKETS-EUROPE-STOCKS/EARNINGS, expect by 1200 GMT/7 AM ET, by Alistair Smout, 750 words)

S&P lifts Portugal downgrade threat, outlook still negative

SYDNEY/LISBON - Standard & Poor's affirms Portugal's BB credit rating after reviewing it for a possible downgrade, but retains a negative outlook on the rating, which is two notches below investment grade. (PORTUGAL-RATINGS/(UPDATE 1), moved, 540 words)

+ See also:

- NETHERLANDS-DEBT/RATING (UPDATE 1), moved, by Sara Webb, 400 words

INSIGHT

Goldman's low-cost Utah bet buoys its bottom-line

NEW YORK - Goldman Sachs Group Inc has been quietly moving thousands of jobs from pricey places like New York and London to cheaper cities like Salt Lake City in recent years, and executives say those efforts are finally starting to show up in the bank's results. (GOLDMAN-COMPENSATION/ (INSIGHT), moved, by Lauren Tara LaCapra, 900 words)

MARKETS INVESTMENT

European equity options traders eye Q1 fall then later rally

LONDON - Expectations of solid gains for European equities this year mask a growing rush of bets on a weak first quarter, with investors piling into the options market to protect themselves. (MARKETS-EUROPE-STOCKS/OPTIONS, expect by 1200 GMT/7 AM ET, by Sudip Kar-Gupta, 625 words)

Frontiers off to a good start as EM suffers

LONDON - 2014 is shaping up to be a year of another juicy gains in frontier markets as the bigger emerging world feel the chill from U.S. stimulus wind-down and developed counterparts already reach dizzy heights. (MARKETS-FRONTIER/ (ANALYSIS), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Natsuko Waki, 800 words)

Spain, Italy grab historic chance to lengthen life of debt

LONDON - Spain and Italy are grabbing a historic opportunity to lengthen the average life of their debt and pull themselves out of a dangerous spiral of ever-increasing short-term debt obligations. (MARKETS-DEBT/PERIPHERY, expect by 1200 GMT/7 AM ET, by Marius Zaharia, 800 words)

High Street punters, banks eye spoils of London's China push

LONDON - London's ambitions of becoming Europe's main offshore hub for trading in China's currency look set to step up this year after a triple boost following two years of mixed success. (CHINA-CURRENCY/LONDON, expect by 1300 GMT/8 AM ET, by Simon Jessop and Steve Slater, 800 words)

Investors brace for weaker yen against kiwi, real

TOKYO - The yen has more room to fall against many widely traded currencies in the months ahead under the weight of the Bank of Japan's ultra easy monetary policy, though its downward progress will be uneven as the policies of rival central banks diverge. (JAPAN-YEN/, moved, by Lisa Twaronite, 1,000 words)

ECONOMY

Small stores help UK retail sales grow fastest in 9 years

LONDON - Strong growth in sales in smaller stores help British retailers report the fastest annual sales growth in more than nine years last month, confounding more gloomy reports from bigger chains. (BRITAIN RETAIL/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 300 words)

UK's Labour pledges to force big banks to sell branches

LONDON - Britain's banks will have to shrink and sell off branches in order to improve competition if Labour wins the next election, party leader Ed Miliband will announce in a speech spelling out his agenda for financial reform. (BRITAIN-MILIBAND/ECONOMY (UPDATE 1), expect by 1200 GMT/7 AM ET, by William James and Matt Scuffham, 800 words)

Japan raises its economic view, capex seen on the rise

TOKYO - Japan raised its assessment on the overall economy for the first time in four months, reflecting strong private consumption and improving capital expenditure, suggesting Tokyo's aggressive stimulus is solidifying an economic recovery. (JAPAN-ECONOMY/REPORT (UPDATE 2), moved, by Kaori Kaneko, 600 words)

+ See also:

- JAPAN-ECONOMY/BOJ, moved, by Leika Kihara, 600 words

COMPANIES

ThyssenKrupp CEO asks shareholders for more time

BOCHUM, Germany - ThyssenKrupp Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger asks the steelmaker's shareholders to be patient as he tries to overhaul the company. (THYSSENKRUPP-STRATEGY/SHAREHOLDERS (UPDATE 1), expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Maria Sheahan, 500 words)

Apple China Mobile launch could spark costly subsidy war

BEIJING - Apple Inc is finally launching its iPhone on China Mobile Ltd's vast network, opening the door to the world's largest carrier's 763 million subscribers and giving its China sales a short-term jolt. (APPLE-CHINAMOBILE/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Paul Carsten, 700 words)

+ See also:

- NINTENDO-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moved, by Chang-Ran Kim, 600 words

Big Pharma may threaten to cut S.Africa investment

JOHANNESBURG - Global drug firms may threaten to cut their South African investment as part of a campaign against Pretoria's plans to overhaul its intellectual property laws to favour generic production, documents seen by Reuters show. (SAFRICA-PHARMA/, moved, by Tiisetso Motsoeneng, 550 words)

First China firm to list since 2012 soars in debut

SHANGHAI - The first firm to list in mainland China after a 14-month freeze on IPOs jumped 43.5 percent in its debut, just shy of its daily limit, underscoring pent-up demand that bodes well for a raft of new issues to come. (NEWAY-IPO/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Kazunori Takada, 720 words)

+ See also:

- BEIJINGAUTO IPO/, moved, by Elzio Barreto and Fiona Lau, 600 words)

With Beam deal, Asia's thirst holds promise for Suntory

TOKYO - Suntory Holdings' high-multiple acquisition of Beam Inc boosts the Japanese group's U.S. market share, but the U.S. bourbon maker's sales and distribution networks in Asia and other emerging markets may yet to be the deal's trump card. (SUNTORY-BEAM/EMERGING (PICTURE), moved, by Sophie Knight, 1,000 words)

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