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Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:57am EST

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TOP STORIES

Shock euro zone inflation drop puts heat on ECB to act

BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT - An unexpected drop in euro zone inflation raises pressure on the European Central Bank to consider fresh policy action next week to support a weak euro zone recovery that risks running out of steam. (ECB/RATES, moved, by Martin Santa and Paul Carrel, 800 words)

+ See also:

- ECB/LAUTENSCHLAEGER (UPDATE 1), moved, 300 words

Fresh turbulence drives down emerging currencies, bonds

LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Fresh waves of turbulence engulfed emerging markets on Friday, with a renewed slide in the Russian rouble and a sharp rise in bond yields across the board despite policymakers' efforts to staunch the bleeding. (MARKETS-EMERGING/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Sujata Rao, 950 words)

+ See also:

- (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moved, by Marc Jones, 930 words

Turks hoard dollars fearing lira rout will continue

ISTANBUL - Turkish households and firms are hoarding dollars, suggesting they have little faith the lira will be spared a further emerging markets sell-off despite a massive rate hike this week. (TURKEY-ECONOMY/, moved, by Asli Kandemir, 500 words)

EU watchdog sets out initial terms of bank health check

LONDON - European Union banks face their toughest probe yet in a bid to weed out the sector's weaklings, the bloc's chief watchdog says, announcing stress tests intended to help draw a line under the financial crisis. (EU-BANKS/STRESSTESTS, moved, by Huw Jones, 500 words)

+ See also:

- EU-BANKS/STRESSTEST (FACTBOX), moved, 350 words

INVESTMENT

Investors cut emerging Asia debt, favour developed stocks

LONDON - The world's top investors kick off the new year by cutting emerging Asian bond holdings to a 2-1/2 year low while keeping relatively high weightings in euro zone stocks, a Reuters poll shows. (FUNDS-POLL/GLOBAL (WRAPUP 1), moved, by Natsuko Waki, 700 words)

Emerging sell-off leaves Japan most exposed

LONDON - Japan may be the most vulnerable developed country from a brutal sell-off in emerging markets as its stock markets rely heavily on fickle foreign flows and the yen spikes in times of global risk aversion. (EMERGING-JAPAN/ (ANALYSIS), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Natsuko Waki, 600 words)

Weak rand shines warmly on South African tourism

CAPE TOWN - South African policymakers have watched in horror as the rand has plunged against the dollar over the last year, bringing inflation and higher interest rates, but the tourism industry is happily raking in the extra dollars. (AFRICA-INVESTMENT/ (PICTURE), moved, by Stella Mapenzauswa, 870 words)

ECONOMY

U.S. consumer spending rises in December, income flat

WASHINGTON - U.S. consumer spending rises more than expected in December, but weak income growth suggests the economy could cool off a bit in the first quarter. (USA-ECONOMY/SPENDING, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/COSTS, moved, 275 words

German retail body sees 2014 sales rising by 1.5 pct

BERLIN - German retail sales will climb by 1.5 percent this year in nominal terms after growing by 1.1 percent in 2013, Germany's HDE retail association says. (GERMANY-RETAIL/, moved, 1500 words)

Spanish prices rise less than expected January

MADRID - Spanish consumer prices rise slightly less than expected in January, preliminary data shows, although they remain high enough to dampen speculation about deflation, a key concern for the European Central Bank. (SPAIN-ECONOMY/PRICES (UPDATE 2), moved, 380 words)

EU treaty revision not a priority - France's Hollande

BRIZE NORTON, England - French President Francois Hollande says that France does not consider revision of the EU treaties - something British Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing for - a matter of urgency. (BRITAIN-FRANCE/HOLLANDE (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 500 words)

OPEC oil output rises from 2-1/2-year low - survey

LONDON - OPEC's oil output has risen in January from December's 2-1/2-year low, due to a partial recovery in Libyan supply and higher shipments from Iraq and Iran, a Reuters survey finds. (OPEC-OIL/SURVEY, moved, by Alex Lawler, 480 words)

Obama aide predicts drama-free U.S. debt ceiling increase

WASHINGTON - A top White House official voices confidence that Republicans will agree in the next few weeks to lift the country's borrowing limit without using the confrontational tactics that rattled financial markets in past years. (USA-FISCAL/BURWELL (EXCLUSIVE, PICTURE, TV), moved, by Mark Felsenthal, 865 words)

COMPANIES

High-priced M&A still in vogue in slowing luxury industry

PARIS - A scarcity of sellers, combined with a growing number of cash-rich buyers from Asia and the Middle East, mean high-priced takeover deals are set to remain in fashion for the luxury goods industry, despite slowing sales growth. (LUXURY-M&A/ (DEALTALK), moved, by Astrid Wendlandt, 1,110 words)

BBVA, Spanish peers post 2013 earnings recovery

MADRID/BARCELONA - Spain's second-biggest bank BBVA and smaller rival Caixabank post jumps in 2013 profits, as provisions against soured property loans fall and income from lending begins to improve at the end of the year. (SPAIN-BANKS/RESULTS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Sarah White and Andres Gonzalez, 700 words)

Lone Star hires advisors for IKB sale as stress tests loom

FRANKFURT - Private equity investor Lone Star prepares sell German corporate bank IKB as the European Central Bank readies balance sheet health checks expected to force weaker banks to raise more capital. (LONESTAR-IKB/ (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Arno Schuetze, 600 words)

MasterCard profit rises 3 pct

MasterCard Inc, the world's No.2 credit and debit card company, reports a 3 percent rise in quarterly profit as more people across the world use plastic instead of cash. (MASTERCARD-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 250 words)

Cable group Altice targets acquisitions after market debut

AMSTERDAM/PARIS - Cable group Altice has set its sights on further international expansion after raising 750 million euros ($1 billion) from its stock market debut. (ALTICE-IPO/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Sara Webb and James Regan, 430 words)

Ireland puts first bankers on trial since crisis

DUBLIN - Ireland, a country that was almost brought to its knees by a collapsing banking industry, starts its first trial of bankers for their actions in the financial crisis that forced it to a bailout. (IRELAND-BANKS/, moved, by Sarah O'Connor, 500 words)

Chinese-backed Blu LNG slows down U.S. growth plans

LOS ANGELES - Blu LNG, one of the biggest names in the move to wean U.S. trucks off diesel onto natural gas, has laid off 20 percent of its staff, ousted several senior executives and slowed down development of fuelling stations as it waits for more truckers to embrace the switch to the cheap and cleaner-burning fuel. (BLU-LNG/RETREAT (EXCLUSIVE, PICTURE), moved, by Nichola Groom, 1,150 words)

Sanofi sues Eli Lilly over challenge to diabetes drug Lantus

NEW YORK/PARIS - French drugmaker Sanofi is suing Eli Lilly and Co for alleged patent infringements concerning its top-selling Lantus diabetes treatment, delaying the U.S. firm's plans to produce a copycat version of Lantus. (SANOFI-LILLY/INSULIN (UPDATE 1), moved, by Bill Berkrot and Natalie Huet, 535 words)

COMMODITIES

Political limbo to cap rebound in EU biodiesel output

PARIS - The introduction of anti-dumping taxes to block a flow of massive imports of biodiesel into Europe has prompted a regain in output but the industry revival will be capped by a reverse in public enthusiasm towards biofuels seen competing with food. (BIODIESEL-EUROPE/ (ANALYSIS), moved, by Sybille de La Hamaide, 825 words)