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TOP STORIES

US service sector growth, hiring improves in January

NEW YORK - Growth picked up in the dominant service sector in January, with steady strength in private-sector hiring, suggesting the U.S. economy was digging through the winter weather that socked the country over the last several weeks. (USA-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP 1), moving shortly, by David Gaffen, 350 words)

CVS to become first major U.S. drugstore to drop cigarettes

CVS Caremark Corp says that it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October, becoming the first U.S. drugstore chain to take cigarettes off the shelf. (CVSCAREMARK-CIGARETTES/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Phil Wahba and Julie Steenhuysen, 615 words)

Disney reports quarterly results

Superhero film 'Thor' and animated musical 'Frozen' are expected to help lift Walt Disney profit for the fourth quarter, when the operator of cable channels, theme parks and a movie studio posts results. (DISNEY-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), expect by 2000 GMT/5 PM ET, 350 words)

Google avoids fine with EU antitrust deal

BRUSSELS - Google agrees to make concessions on how it displays competitors' links on its website, in a deal with the European Union regulator that ended a three-year antitrust probe and avoided a fine. (EU-GOOGLE/ (TV, PIX) (UPDATE 2), moved, 500 words)

MARKETS

European shares cling to gains as jitters linger

LONDON - European shares are clinging to slender gains as disappointing Christmas retail sales take the gloss off the best euro zone PMI figures in 2-1/2 years and calmer conditions in emerging markets. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moved, by Marc Jones, 865 words)

+ See also:

- EUROZONE-RETAIL/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Robin Emmott, 550 words

Dollar to gain vs major currencies as Fed trims stimulus

LONDON - The U.S. dollar will make steady gains against major currencies this year as a recovery in the world's largest economy gathers pace and gives the Federal Reserve room to wind down its stimulus programme, a Reuters poll finds. (MARKETS-FOREX-POLL/EURO, by Jonathan Cable, 600 words)

+ See also:

- MARKETS-FOREX-POLL/EMERGING, by Yati Himatsingka and Vuyani Ndaba, 600 words

Investors cling to frontiers as emerging markets sink

LONDON - As emerging markets tumble this year, the riskiest country groupings on the fringes have been a haven. Small markets, local stories and in some cases pegged currencies backed by strong central bank reserves have shielded frontier markets from the worst of the emerging market rout. (EMERGING-FRONTIER/, moved, by Carolyn Cohn, 950 words)

ECONOMY

Olympics Games unlikely to boost Russian economy - Moody's

SOCHI, Russia - Hosting the Winter Olympics at great cost in Sochi is unlikely to give the Russian economy a big boost, ratings agency Moody's said on Wednesday, undermining one of President Vladimir Putin's main goals at the Games. (OLYMPICS-RUSSIA/MOODY'S (UPDATE 1, PICTURES), moved, by Timothy Heritage and Keith Weir, 600 words)

Portugal's unemployment falls for third straight quarter

LISBON - Portugal's jobless rate falls for the third consecutive quarter in the three months that ended in December, showing further gradual improvement for the economy as it entered 2014 when Lisbon hopes to smoothly exit an international bailout. (PORTUGAL-UNEMPLOYMENT/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 300 words)

COMPANIES

JPMorgan in exclusive talks with Mercuria on commods sale

LONDON - Fast-growing trading house Mercuria, led by two former Goldman Sachs executives, emerged as the front-runner to buy the physical commodities unit of JPMorgan, one of the most powerful oil and metals desks on Wall Street, two sources tell Reuters. (JPMORGAN-COMMODITIES/MERCURIA (EXCLUSIVE, UPDATE 2), moved, by Dmitry Zhdannikov, 840 words)

GlaxoSmithKline signals better 2014 as drug R&D improves

LONDON - GlaxoSmithKline flags a pick-up in growth this year as productivity in its drug research labs improves and pressure on sales in China moderates following a damaging bribery scandal in the country. (GLAXOSMITHKLINE-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Ben Hirschler, 600 words)

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