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TOP STORIES

Falling inflation puts ECB easing bias to test

FRANKFURT - European Central Bank policymakers meeting face a dilemma after a surprise fall in inflation brought the euro zone closer to slipping into deflation, but with the growth outlook intact they might hold off on action for now. (ECB/RATES, moved, by Sakari Suoninen, 680 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN BOE/PREVIEW, moved, by Andy Bruce, 600 words

Credit Suisse misses profit forecast after legal charges

ZURICH - Credit Suisse misses expectations with a marginal uptick in fourth-quarter net profit after increased legal costs arising from U.S. probes into alleged tax evasion and the sale of mortgage-backed bonds. (CREDITSUISSE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), expect by 1300 GMT/8 AM ET, by Katharina Bart, 850 words)

As losses mount, Sony steps up restructuring with PCs pullout, TV spinoff

TOKYO - Sony Corp steps up efforts to turn around its unprofitable electronics operations, quitting the personal computers business and splitting its TV division into a separate unit as it warns it expects steep losses this year. (SONY-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Sophie Knight and Reiji Murai, 420 words)

Stocks edge higher; euro ticks down before ECB

LONDON - World stocks edge up from this week's four-month lows in cautious trade ahead of a euro zone monetary policy decision later, supported by relative calm in vulnerable emerging markets. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 3), expect by 1030 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Natsuko Waki, 600 words)

MARKETS

Emerging market turmoil means Swiss franc cap may stay

ZURICH - The rout in emerging markets is threatening to drive up the Swiss franc, making a case for the Swiss National Bank to keep its currency cap in place for some time despite some claims it is becoming less necessary. (SWISS-FRANC/EMERGING, moved, by Alice Baghdjian, 790 words)

ECONOMY

BOJ officials signal readiness to act, warn of emerging market risks

TOKYO/MIYAZAKI, Japan - The Bank of Japan stands ready to expand monetary stimulus further if necessary to safeguard its inflation mandate, two top policymakers says, warning that the rout in emerging markets was already affecting Japanese assets. (JAPAN-ECONOMY/BOJ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Leika Kihara, 790 words)

French manufacturers revise up investment expectations - survey

PARIS - French manufacturing companies are raising their investment expectations for this year, a survey shows, in good news for the government as it struggles to engineer an economic recovery. (FRANCE-ECONOMY/, moved, 250 words)

Swiss trade surplus narrows sharply in Dec as imports jump

ZURICH - Switzerland's trade surplus narrows sharply in December to 503 million francs, its lowest level in four years, as a jump in imports outweighed higher exports, the Federal Customs Office says. (SWISS-ECONOMY/TRADE, moved, 470 words)

World food prices fall in January - FAO

ROME - Global food prices fall in January, led by declines in the costs of sugar, vegetable oils, and cereals, the United Nations food agency says. (FOOD-FAO/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 200 words)

UK house prices rise at fastest pace in three months - Halifax

LONDON - British house prices show their biggest rise in three months in January and one measure of affordability deteriorated to its weakest since the financial crisis, mortgage lender Halifax reports, fuelling concerns of a property bubble. (BRITAIN-PROPERTY/HALIFAX (UPDATE 1), moved, by David Milliken, 390 words)

Solid Australia retail sales, export boom back steady rates outlook

SYDNEY - Australian retail sales top forecasts for a fifth straight month in December adding to evidence that consumer spending is reviving in time to help cushion the economy from a cooling mining boom. (AUSTRALIA-ECONOMY/VIEW (UPDATE 1), moved, by Wayne Cole, 700 words)

COMPANIES

AstraZeneca earnings heading south as patent losses bite

LONDON - AstraZeneca expects earnings to continue to fall in 2014 as generic competition to its popular heartburn and ulcer drug Nexium takes a big bite out of U.S. profits from May. (ASTRAZENECA-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1100 GMT/6 AM ET, by Ben Hirschler, 600 words)

+ See also:

- SANOFI-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Natalie Huet, 530 words

- CIRCASSIA-IPO/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Paul Sandle, 450 words

Daimler Q4 profit boosted by improved margins at Mercedes

STUTTGART, Germany - Daimler ups its dividend, improves margins at its Mercedes-Benz division and says it expects a significant increase in profit from its cars and trucks division in 2014. (DAIMLER-RESULTS/Q4 (UPDATE 1), moved, 395 words)

Vodafone confident on revenue outlook after tough Q3

LONDON - Britain's Vodafone says it is confident the take up of faster 4G services and an improved consumer offering will help lift its revenue, after reporting yet another poor quarter due to fierce competition in Europe. (VODAFONE/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle, 710 words)

+ See also:

- ALCATEL-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Leila Abboud and Gwénaëlle Barzic, 590 words

Volvo to more than double job cuts after weak quarterly earnings

STOCKHOLM - World No.2 truck maker Volvo will increase its job cuts to 4,400, more than double its original plan, after currency effects and the cost of launching new models muted a rise in quarterly earnings. (VOLVO/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom, 620 words)

+ See also:

- AUSTRALIA-FORD/JOBS, moved, 270 words

- BRITAIN-AUTOS/SMMIT, moved, 100 words

AkzoNobel Q4 beats forecasts, expects to meet 2015 targets

AMSTERDAM - AkzoNobel reports slightly higher-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and says it will meet its 2015 targets even though tough economic conditions meant it will press on with restructuring and finding ways to cut costs. (AKZONOBEL-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Sara Webb, 285 words)

Hannover Re reiterates 2014 profit goal after Jan renewals

FRANKFURT - Germany's Hannover Re sticks by its aim of earning around 850 million euros ($1.15 billion) in net profit this year after securing acceptable margins on reinsurance contracts it renewed with insurance companies in January. (HANNOVERRE-RESULTS/, moved, 290 words)

Etihad's stake strategy faces new test with Alitalia move

FRANKFURT/MILAN - A potential deal to buy a stake in troubled Italian airline Alitalia could be the biggest test yet for Abu Dhabi-based Etihad's strategy of using stakes in ailing airlines as an easy way to expand its global footprint. (ETIHAD-ALITALIA/STAKE, moved, by Victoria Bryan and Agnieszka Flak, 1,190 words)

Norway's DNB profit, dividend beat all expectations

OSLO - DNB, Norway's biggest bank, beat all expectations with its fourth-quarter earnings and sharply increases its dividend as loan losses virtually evaporate. (DNB-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 275 words)

+ See also:

- DANSKE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 390 words

- POHJOLA-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, 275 words

At least eight dead in S.African gold mine accident

JOHANNESBURG, - Rescuers recover eight bodies and continue to search for another missing worker after a fire and rock-fall at a Harmony Gold mine near Johannesburg, the worst accident in South Africa's mines in nearly five years. (SAFRICA-MINERS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Ed Cropley, 460 words)

Australian regulator says AGL buying MacGen may hurt competition

SYDNEY - AGL Energy's proposed takeover of Australian state-owned power company Macquarie Generation could create a "substantial lessening of competition" in the country's energy market, the competition regulator says. (AUSTRALIA-MACQUARIEGENERATION/, moved, 400 words)

Australia's Woolworths sales rise as online orders ahead of target

SYDNEY - Australia's largest supermarket chain Woolworths Ltd reports a 6 percent rise in first-half sales, boosted by online orders and growth in its key food and liquor division. (AUSTRALIA-WOOLWORTHS/SALES (UPDATE 1), moved, 400 words)