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TOP STORIES

Euro zone business starts 2014 on high, China falters

LONDON - The global economy starts 2014 disjointed, with the euro zone's private sector in much better shape than expected but China's vast factory sector contracts for the first time in six months, surveys show. (GLOBAL-ECONOMY/, expect by 1100 GMT/6 AM ET, by Jonathan Cable, 600 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/PMI (UPDATE 2), moved, 880 words

- PMI/FLASH-GERMANY, moved, 555 words

- FRANCE-ECONOMY/PMI (UPDATE 1), moved, by Leigh Thomas, 530 words

- ECB-DRAGHI/CAUTION, moved, 100 words

Brighter euro zone helps offset limp China data

LONDON - Investors look to euro zone data to lift their spirits after surprisingly soft Chinese manufacturing figures hit commodity-linked currencies and other growth-sensitive assets in Asia. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), expect by 1100 GMT/6 AM ET, by Marc Jones, 800 words)

Data dumps and pig farms: Inside Europe's stress tests

LONDON - In his youth, Barrie Wilkinson studied how to stress test bridges. Now he is stress testing the euro zone's biggest banks. (EUROPE-STRESSTESTS/PREVIEW, moved, by Laura Noonan, 1,120 words)

US judge bars "Big Four" China units for 6 months

WASHINGTON - Chinese units of the global "Big Four" accounting firms should be suspended from practising in the United States for six months, a U.S. judge rules, in an escalation in a long-running dispute over regulators' access to audit documents. (SEC-CHINA/BIGFOUR (UPDATE 4), moved, by Sarah N. Lynch, 1,200 words)

SPECIAL REPORT

How Caterpillar got bulldozed in China

ZHENGZHOU - A year and a half after Caterpillar Inc signed off on a deal with Zhengzhou Siwei, it has become a case study in how a foreign company with decades of experience in China can still flounder in that market. It also shows how willing some multinationals are to accept risks they might otherwise avoid to establish themselves in the world's second-largest economy. (CATERPILLAR/CHINA (SPECIAL REPORT, PICTURE, TV, GRAPHICS), moved, by Clare Baldwin and John Ruwitch, 2,600 words)

INVESTMENT

Investors dream of new frontiers - from Iran to N.Korea

LONDON - Iran, hoping to see Western sanctions lifted, and North Korea are among extreme frontier markets that could attract fund managers willing to overcome financial hurdles and political risks in the search for higher returns. (EMERGING-INVESTMENT/FRONTIER, expect 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Carolyn Cohn and Natsuko Waki, 1,000 words)

Davos bosses tread warily in rocky emerging markets

DAVOS, Switzerland - Multinational companies are becoming more picky about emerging market investments as slowing growth in upstart economies and a recovery in the West takes the shine off a previous sure-fire strategic bet. (DAVOS-EMERGING/ (ANALYSIS), moved, by Ben Hirschler, 940 words)

+ See also:

- DAVOS-RUSSIA-SBERBANK/, moved, 370 words

- DAVOS-NIGERIA/SANUSI (UPDATE 1), moved, 330 words

Yuan, rupee win as FX investors cherry-pick within Asia

SINGAPORE - From a rapidly rising Indian rupee to a falling Singapore dollar, 2014 is shaping up to be a year in which investors in Asian currencies will not merely discriminate heavily but also pick trades that reduce exposure to the fickle U.S. dollar. (MARKETS-ASIA/CURRENCIES (ANALYSIS), moved, by Vidya Ranganathan, 900 words)

ECONOMY

Hardest yet to come for France's Hollande on reforms

PARIS - French President Francois Hollande has won cautious backing from markets, Berlin and Brussels for a centrist reform push that could be his last chance to get the euro zone's second largest economy motoring. But a week after his January 14 announcement, it is not clear how and when he will pull off his plan. (FRANCE-REFORM (ANALYSIS), expect by 1230 GMT/7.30 AM ET, by Mark John and Jean-Baptiste Vey, 800 words)

UK car industry offers good omen for economic rebalancing

LONDON - A bumper year for Britain's car industry in 2013 offers some hope that growth in the rest of the economy will finally start to move on to a more sustainable footing this year. (BRITAIN-ECONOMY/AUTOS (ANALYSIS, PIX, GRAPHICS), expect by 1300, by David Milliken, 1200 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-BOE/FISHER, moved, 460 words

Reuters poll on Bank of England monetary policy

LONDON - Reuters has conducted a snap poll over 50 economists on the outlook for the Bank of England's monetary policy after a better than expected jobs report. (BOE-RATES/POLL, expect at 1215 GMT/7.15 AM ET, by Ross Finley and William Schomberg, 600 words)

Spain's unemployment rate inches up, economy grows in Q4

MADRID - Spain's already high unemployment rate inches up in the fourth quarter in a bleak reminder of the challenges the country faces even as the struggling economy expands for the second straight quarter. (SPAIN-ECONOMY/(UPDATE 2), expect by 1030 GMT. 5.30 AM ET, by Paul Day, 700 words)

IMF says BOJ inflation target likely to take more than 2 years

TOKYO - Japan's economy is likely to take longer than the two-year official timeframe to reach the central bank's 2 percent inflation goal even though prices are rising steadily, an International Monetary Fund official says. (JAPAN-ECONOMY/BOJ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Stanley White, 370 words)

COMPANIES

Standard Chartered boss says takeover talk is "rubbish"

DAVOS, Switzerland - Standard Chartered's chief executive said takeover talk that has resurfaced around his bank after recent problems is "rubbish" and the Asia-focused lender's prospects remain strong. (DAVOS-STANCHART/CEO, moved, 425 words)

+ See also:

- SABADELL-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Sarah White, 300 words

Phone-free Nokia expected to report fall in network sales

HELSINKI - Nokia is expected to report a fall in sales at its network equipment unit, underscoring challenges for the company after the sale of its former flagship handset business to Microsoft for 5.4 billion euros. (NOKIA-RESULTS/, expect by 1130 GMT/6.30 AM ET, by Ritsuko Ando, 200 words)

Haniel in bid to salvage Celesio deal - sources

FRANKFURT - The majority shareholder behind German drugs distributor Celesio is trying to hammer out a deal with fellow shareholder and hedge fund Elliott in a fresh attempt to salvage the company's takeover by U.S. drugs wholesaler group McKesson, three people familiar with the talks tell Reuters. (MCKESSON-CELESIO/TALKS (UPDATE 1), expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Ludwig Burger, 300 words)

South African strike hits world's top platinum producers

RUSTENBURG, South Africa - South Africa's hardline Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) begins strike over pay in the platinum sector, bringing mines that produce half the world's platinum to a standstill. (SAFRICA-STRIKES/ (UPDATE 2, TV, PICTURES), moved, by Ed Stoddard, 700 words)

Toyota keeps global sales crown, sees '14 sales above 10 mln

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp retains its rank as the world's best-selling automaker last year, beating out rivals General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG for the second year in a row as the weak yen underpinned sales overseas. (TOYOTA-FORECASTS/, moved, 240 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-AUTOS/, moved, 250 words

Customer, not size, is king in German utility revamp

FRANKFURT - German utilities are facing the inconvenient situation of either learning to embrace the end-customer or drop out of the market. (GERMANY-UTILITIES/STRATEGY, expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Christoph Steitz, 800 words)

Pearson warns on earnings hit from weak U.S. demand

LONDON - British publisher Pearson warns its 2013 earnings per share will be lower than expected due to higher restructuring costs and poor demand in its education business in North America during its key selling quarter. (PEARSON/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 255 words)

China's Lenovo nears deal to buy IBM's server unit -sources

Lenovo Group Ltd is nearing an agreement to buy International Business Machines Corp's low-end server business for $2-2.5 billion, a deal that would help the Chinese company counter the shrinking personal computers market, people familiar with the matter say. (IBM-SERVER/LENOVO (UPDATE 1), moved, 350 words)

Russia's Gazprom Q3 net profit up 4 pct

MOSCOW - Gazprom OAO, the world's top gas producer, posts a third-quarter net profit of 276 billion roubles ($8.13 billion), down 10 percent year-on-year but outperforming expectations. (RUSSIA-GAPROM/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 185 words)

Real Madrid stay top of money league despite barren year

LONDON - Spain's Real Madrid retained the title of the world's richest soccer club in the past year thanks to sponsorship and TV deals robust enough to endure a season without a major trophy, a study shows. (SOCCER-RICH/DELOITTE (PICTURE, TV, GRAPHICS), moved, by Keith Weir, 600 words)

+ See also:

- SOCCER-RICH/DELOITTE (FACTBOX), moved, 145 words

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