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TOP STORIES

World economic recovery struggling to gain traction

LONDON/BEIJING - China's vast factory sector contracts again this month and the expected acceleration in euro zone business activity fails to materialise, highlighting the fragile state of a global economy struggling to recover. (GLOBAL-ECONOMY/(WRAPUP), moved, by Jonathan Cable and Adam Rose, 700 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/PMI (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Adam Rose, 500 words

- PMI-FLASH/GERMANY, moved, 510 words

Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19 bln in deal shocker

Facebook Inc will buy fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock in a landmark deal that places the world's largest social network closer to the heart of mobile communications and may bring younger users into the fold. (WHATSAPP-FACEBOOK/ (UPDATE 3, PICTURE, TV), moved, by Gerry Shih and Sarah McBride, 800 words)

+ See also:

- WHATSAPP-FACEBOOK/RESEARCH, moved, by Soham Chatterjee and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, 570 words

Wal-Mart gives weak forecast, says pressure still on U.S. shoppers

Wal-Mart Stores Inc gives a profit forecast for the year that misses analyst expectations and says sales growth will be hurt by factors such as reduced government benefits, higher taxes and tighter credit this year. (WALMART-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 225 words)

Downbeat activity data pushes global shares lower

LONDON - Shares fall and safe-haven currencies rise after downbeat surveys of economic activity in China and parts of Europe highlight the fragility of the global recovery and raise concerns about the withdrawal of monetary stimulus. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 3), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Francesco Canepa, 540 words)

EMERGING MARKETS

G20 final document to address U.S. policy impact on emerging markets

MOSCOW - The world's financial leaders will address the impact of U.S. monetary policy on emerging markets in a final document from their meeting this week in Sydney, but the wording has yet to be agreed, a Russian G20 official says. (G20/COMMUNIQUE, moved, by Lidia Kelly, 700 words)

ECONOMY

U.S. jobless claims fall in Feb payrolls survey week

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to steadily improving labor market conditions, despite two straight months of weak hiring. (USA-ECONOMY/JOBS, moved, 265 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/PRICES, moved, 290 words

Nigeria suspends anti-graft central bank governor

LAGOS - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan suspends Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi, removing an increasingly outspoken critic of the government's record on tackling rampant corruption in Africa's leading energy producer. (NIGERIA-SANUSI/ (UPDATE 3, PICTURE), moved, by Tim Cocks, 900 words)

Spain's long-term bond yields fall to pre-crisis levels at auction

MADRID - Spain easily sells three medium- and long-term bonds at auction, with 10-year and 30-year yields falling to pre-crisis levels as investors bet on a strengthening outlook for the economy. (SPAIN-BONDS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Paul Day, 475 words)

+ See also:

- FRANCE-BONDS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 160 words

Britain's Osborne promises budget of "hard truths" to balance economy

LONDON/HONG KONG - British finance minister George Osborne warns he will deal with "hard truths" about Britain's unbalanced economic recovery in his annual budget next month, emphasising a need for more manufacturing exports. (BRITAIN-ECONOMY/OSBORNE (UPDATE 1), moved, by William James, 415 words)

COMPANIES

Deutsche Bank settles Kirch case in milestone deal

FRANKFURT - Deutsche Bank ends its decade-long battle with the heirs of late media mogul Leo Kirch, closing one of Germany's most acrimonious corporate battles in a deal that will cost the country's largest lender about 900 million euros ($1.24 billion). (DEUTSCHEBANK-KIRCH/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 315 words)

BAE warns U.S. defence spending cuts to hit earnings this year

LONDON - Europe's biggest defence contractor BAE Systems warns it expects earnings this year to drop by up to 10 percent as a result of U.S. spending cuts, with conditions still difficult despite a recent budget deal in Congress. (BAE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), moving shortly, by Brenda Goh, 600 words)

Bayer, Novartis, others eye Merck's consumer health unit-sources

NEW YORK/LONDON - A handful of consumer and healthcare companies including Bayer AG and Novartis are exploring a deal for Merck & Co Inc's consumer healthcare business, as they seek to gain scale in a fragmented industry, according to several people familiar with the matter. (MERCK-BIDS/ (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Olivia Oran, Soyoung Kim and Anjuli Davies, 780 words)

Europe's chemical firms pin hopes on R&D with customers

FRANKFURT - European chemicals and plastics makers are cutting in-house research and instead trying to persuade industrial customers to work together on developing running shoes, cars or electronics. (R&D-CHEMICAL-INDUSTRY/ (ANALYSIS), moved, by Ludwig Burger, 790 words)

Danone eyes sales acceleration in 2014

PARIS - French food group Danone says sales growth will accelerate this year as a recovery in European dairy gathers momentum and as it seeks to rebuild demand eroded by an Asian recall of high-margin infant formula products. (DANONE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Dominique Vidalon, 660 words)

+ See also:

- DANONE-CHINA/, moved, by Adam Jourdan, 1,300 words

Swiss Re appoints David Cole as finance chief

ZURICH - Reinsurer Swiss Re appoints David Cole as its finance chief and raises its dividend after reporting an unexpected rise in net income. (SWISSRE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Alice Baghdjian , 520 words)

British Gas customers leave in droves, 2013 profit drops

LONDON - Householders left British Gas in their hundreds of thousands last year in a backlash against a 9-percent hike in already-high energy tariffs, owner Centrica says when it reported a drop in 2013 group profits. (CENTRICA-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Karolin Schaps, 590 words)

Air France-KLM returns to operating profit in 2013

PARIS - Air France-KLM reports a swing back to profit that was sharper than expected for last year and said it was on course to meet its main debt reduction goal in 2015 after a prolonged crisis. (AIRFRANCE-KLM/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 625 words)

Germany's Henkel says forex woes to persist in first half

FRANKFURT - German consumer goods group Henkel says that weak foreign currencies would continue to hurt its results in the first half of 2014 as it reported fourth-quarter sales below expectations. (HENKEL-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 320 words)

Britain's Nationwide ahead of capital target as customers rise

LONDON - Nationwide, Britain's biggest customer-owned lender, says it is on track to hit a capital target set by the financial regulator ahead of schedule and has achieved a 20 percent increase in new customers. (NATIONWIDE-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Matt Scuffham, 360 words)

U.S. health insurers brace for new steep Medicare cuts

NEW YORK - The U.S. government is expected to announce this week the proposed payment rates for insurer-run Medicare plans in 2015, but industry officials say the anticipated cuts will mean higher co-pays and fewer benefits for seniors. (USA-HEALTHCARE/MEDICARE (PREVIEW), moved, by Caroline Humer, 830 words)

South Africa's AMCU union digs in on platinum strike

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) vows to continue a strike against the world's top three platinum producers, with its president describing it as a struggle "for survival." (SAFRICA-STRIKES/ (UPDATE 2, TV), moving shortly, by Ed Stoddard and Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, 680 words)

INSIGHT

Have a cigar: Cuba and Europe write a business plan

BRUSSELS - Eleven months before Barack Obama's historic handshake with Raul Castro, Europe staged its own show of friendliness with Cuba, a gesture that may end up doing far more to end the communist island's isolation. (EU-CUBA/ (INSIGHT, PICTURES), moved, by Robin Emmott, 1,150 words)

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