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TOP STORIES

Euro zone businesses start year on strong note

LONDON - The euro zone's private sector logs its busiest month in 2-1/2 years in January but firms slash prices, which could fan fears of deflation before a policy decision from the European Central Bank, surveys show. (PMI-SERVICES-EUROPE/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Jonathan Cable, 600 words)

+ See also:

- PMI-SERVICES/BRITAIN (UPDATE 1), moved, by Ana Nicolaci da Costa, 660 words

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

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), moving shortly, by Dmitry Zhdannikov, 840 words)

Google improves antitrust offer, EU says deal in sight

BRUSSELS - Google has offered further concessions to address regulatory concerns about its search results, the European Commission says, taking the company a step closer to settling a three-year investigation and prevent a fine of up to $5 billion. (EU-GOOGLE/, moved, 345 words)

SPECIAL REPORT

Niger and Areva's uranium fight

ARLIT, Niger/PARIS - After the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, France embraced nuclear power to free itself from reliance on foreign oil and overnight a remote corner of northern Niger became crucial to its national interests. But uranium has not enriched the former French colony, which remains one of the poorest countries on earth. (NIGER-AREVA/ (SPECIAL REPORT, PICTURE), moved, by Daniel Flynn and Geert de Clercq, moved, 2,500 words)

MARKETS

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)

ICAP has role to play in benchmark setting - CEO

LONDON - Interdealer broker ICAP says it still has a role to play in setting financial market benchmarks under a new regulatory shift that aims to make them less susceptible to rigging. (ICAP-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Clare Hutchison, 560 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)

U.S. private sector adds 175,000 jobs in January-ADP

NEW YORK - U.S. private employers add 175,000 jobs in January, close to analysts' expectations, a report by a payrolls processor shows. (USA-ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT-ADP, moved, 100 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/MORTGAGES, moved, 200 words

Turkish potato price surge adds to pressure before polls

ISTANBUL - The humble potato has become a factor in Turkey's political and economic turmoil as prices of the staple soar, hurting the living standards of poorer Turks just before the ruling AK Party's toughest election test in a decade. (TURKEY-INFLATION/ (PICTURE), moved, by Seda Sezer, 800 words)

+ See also:

- TURKEY-ECONOMY/SIMSEK, moved, 100 words

- TURKEY-ECONOMY/BABACAN, moved, 240 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

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)

+ See also:

- MERCK-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, 200 words

Former HP stars Bradley, Donatelli on brink of exit -sources

NEW YORK - Two of Hewlett-Packard Co's most powerful executives, until they were sidelined by CEO Meg Whitman, are preparing to leave the company in coming weeks, say several sources. (HP-EXITS/, expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Nadia Damouni, Nicola Leske and Edwin Chan, 610 words)

UK industry pledges to strengthen cyber attack defences

LONDON - Britain's critical banking, telecoms, energy, water and transport industries agree to strengthen security to ensure systems are resilient to counter the rising threat of cyber attacks. (BRITAIN-SECURITY/CYBERATTACKS (UPDATE 1), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Steve Slater, 500 words)

+ See also:

- USA-RETAILERS/CYBERSECURITY, moved, by Dhanya Skariachan and Phil Wahba, 900 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/, moved, by Phil Wahba and Julie Steenhuysen, 615 words)

E.ON, VNG may sell gas grid EVG Thueringen - sources

FRANKFURT - German utility E.ON and gas firm VNG AG are considering selling their jointly owned regional gas grid EVG Thueringen in an auction that could fetch 300-400 million euros ($406-540 million), two people familiar with the matter says. (GERMANY-E.ON/GRID (UPDATE 1), moved, 330 words)

Chrysler seals $4.8 bln debt refinancing, to save $400 mln

MILAN - Chrysler Group is set to raise about $4.8 billion in debt that will use to repay an existing bond, allowing the U.S. car maker owned by Italy's Fiat to save around $134 million a year in interest costs between 2014 and 2016. (FIAT-CHRYSLER/FINANCING, moved, 150 words)

Talks break down in Panama Canal contract dispute

MADRID - A planned extension of the Panama Canal, one of the world's most important shipping routes, is thrown into doubt after a group of companies say its talks with Panama's government over how to expand the canal have fallen apart. (SACYR-PANAMA/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Sonya Dowsett, 320 words)

Swatch bullish on 2014 after profit rise

ZURICH - Swatch Group says it expects healthy growth this year after watch and jewellery sales help net profit rise more than 20 percent in 2013. (SWATCH-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Katharina Bart, 800 words)

Syngenta promises $1 bln cost cuts by 2018 as profit drops

ZURICH - Syngenta is aiming to increase cost-cutting to $1 billion a year by 2018, the world's No. 1 crop chemicals maker says after disappointing the market with an 11 percent fall in profit for last year. (SYNGENTA-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Caroline Copley, 700 words)

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