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TOP STORIES

Ukraine tensions hit shares, euro drops to 2-week low

LONDON - Political and military tension in Ukraine and Russia curb risk appetite, weighing on world stocks and pushing the euro, already under pressure from interest rate cut talk, to a two-week low. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Marc Jones, 815 words)

RBS seeks to regain trust after post-crisis losses hit $77 bln

LONDON - Royal Bank of Scotland seeks to shake off its reputation as Britain's pariah bank with plans to cut more costs and reposition itself as a UK-focused retail and commercial lender. (RBS-EARNINGS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Matt Scuffham and Steve Slater, 790 words)

Standard Life and RBS warns over risks of an independent Scotland

LONDON - Insurance and pensions heavyweight Standard Life becomes the first major company to warn it could move parts of its business out of Scotland if Scots split from the United Kingdom, fuelling concerns about the financial impact of independence. (BRITAIN-SCOTLAND/STANDARDLIFE (UPDATE 3), moving shortly, by Belinda Goldsmith and Chris Vellacott, 1,030 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-SCOTLAND/STERLING (UPDATE 1), moved, by Huw Jones and Belinda Goldsmith, 550 words

GDF books 15 bln euro charge as price slump sticks

PARIS - GDF Suez takes a 15 billion euro ($20 billion) writedown in its 2013 results mainly for gas storage and gas power plants whose value was hit by a price slump, but new dividend and profit guidance for the years ahead lift its share price. (GDF-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Geert De Clercq, 790 words)

ECONOMY

U.S. durable goods orders ex-transportation rise in January

WASHINGTON - Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods excluding transportation unexpectedly rise last month as did a gauge of business spending plans, but that will probably not change views that factory activity is slowing. (USA-ECONOMY/DURABLES, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/JOBS, moved, 250 words

Germany's Merkel tells Cameron she cannot satisfy all Britain's EU wishes

LONDON - German Chancellor Angela Merkel tells the British parliament she is not prepared to promise fundamental reform of the European Union for London's sake, but said the bloc did need some changes and that Britain should not leave it. (BRITAIN-GERMANY/MERKEL (UPDATE 1, PICTURE, TV), moving shortly, by Andrew Osborn, 750 words)

German EU-harmonised inflation slows more than forecast in Feb

BERLIN - German EU-harmonised annual inflation decelerates more than expected to 1.0 percent in February, data shows, underlining deflation fears and raising pressure on the European Central Bank to act. (GERMANY-INFLATION/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 430 words)

+ See also:

- GERMANY-UNEMPLOYMENT/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Michelle Martin, 450 words

- EUROZONE/M3 (UPDATE 1), moved, by Paul Carrel, 550 words

- EUROZONE-SENTIMENT/, moved, by Jan Strupczewski, 340 words

Reuters poll on BoE monetary policy

LONDON - Reuters has surveyed over 60 economists on the outlook for UK official interest rates ahead of the Bank of England's monthly policy meeting on March 6 and looks at the clarity of forward guidance. (BOE-RATES/POLL, moved, by Jonathan Cable, 600 words)

+ See also:

- ECB-RATES/POLL, moved, by Sumanta Dey, 600 words

Spanish economy trundles on in fourth quarter

MADRID - Spain's economy grew between October and December as domestic demand and investments improved, data shows, adding to signs that its recovery from recession is slowly gaining traction. (SPAIN-ECONOMY/GDP (UPDATE 2), moved, by Paul Day, 450 words)

+ See also:

- SPAIN-EU-TAX/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 355 words

French consumer sentiment eases in Feb, recovery doubts linger

PARIS - French consumer confidence weakens unexpectedly in February as tentative signs of recovery in the euro zone's second-biggest economy leave households unconvinced in the face of record jobless numbers. (FRANCE-ECONOMY/CONFIDENCE, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- ITALY-ECONOMY/CONFIDENCE, moved, 250 words

COMPANIES

Cost cuts boost Best Buy's quarterly profit

NEW YORK - Best Buy Co Inc reports a better-than-expected quarterly profit on lower expenses and says it is running ahead of plan in terms of cutting costs, sending shares in the world's largest electronics chain up. (BESTBUY-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1330 GMT/8.30 AM ET, by Dhanya Skariachan, 350 words)

+ See also:

- SEARS-HOLDINGS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Phil Wahba, 360 words

Slashing jobs and jets, Qantas makes plea for state aid

SYDNEY - Qantas Airways Ltd is axing 15 percent of its workforce, slashing spending and selling gas-guzzling older planes after stiff competition at home and overseas pushes the Australian flag carrier deep into the red in the first half. (AUSTRALIA-QANTAS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Jane Wardell and Lincoln Feast, 1,000 words)

Maersk beats profit forecast on shipping business

COPENHAGEN - Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk says 2013 net profit falls less than expected thanks to higher earnings at container shipping business Maersk Line. (MAERSK-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Ole Mikkelsen, 530 words)

Telefonica 2013 revenues fall 8.5 pct on Latin American currencies

MADRID - Spain's Telefonica reports an 8.5 percent drop in revenues in 2013, hit by weaker currencies in Latin America and lower sales in Europe, although the underlying business showed tentative signs of a turnaround. (TELEFONICA/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 330 words)

Versace deal with Blackstone values group at 1 bln euros

MILAN - Italy's Versace agrees a deal with Blackstone that will see the U.S. private equity firm take a 20 percent stake in the fashion house in a deal valuing the company at one billion euros ($1.37 billion). (VERSACE-BLACKSTONE/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Isla Binnie, 565 words

Bayer buys Dihon to add traditional Chinese medicine

FRANKFURT - Bayer says it will buy privately held Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co, a maker of traditional herbal Chinese medicines (TCM), as the German drugmaker pushes to become the world's largest non-prescription medicines group. (DIHON-BAYER/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Ludwig Burger, 500 words)

Pimco worries takes shine off Allianz earnings

MUNICH - Europe's largest insurer Allianz expects problems at bond fund manager Pimco to weigh on group performance in 2014 after investors withdrew money last year and Pimco chief executive Mohamed El-Erian said he would leave. (ALLIANZ-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 540 words)

+ See also:

- RSA/CAPITAL (UPDATE 2), moved, by Chris Vellacott, 489 words

Discount pricing hits Britain's WPP's margins and shares

BARCELONA - Fierce competition within the advertising industry forced Britain's WPP to lower its margin guidance for 2014, wiping over a billion pounds off its share price and taking the shine off an acceleration in trading through 2013. (WPP-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Kate Holton, 450 wordS)

Libor fine helps push Rabobank's annual profit down 2 pct

AMSTERDAM - Dutch lender Rabobank says net profit dips 2 percent last year as a $1 billion fine for rigging benchmark interest rates and hefty real estate impairments are only partly offset by the sale of its fund management business. (RABOBANK-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Sara Webb, 490 words)

Japan says any bitcoin regulation should be international

TOKYO - Any regulation of the bitcoin crypto-currency should involve international cooperation to avoid loopholes, Japanese vice finance minister Jiro Aichi says. (BITCOIN-MTGOX (UPDATE 1, TV, PICTURE, GRAPHIC), moved, by Sophie Knight, 1,140 words)

+ See also:

- BITCOIN-LEGAL/, moved, by Joseph Ax and Karen Freifeld, 670 words

Man Group shares soar on earnings, dividend hike, share buyback

LONDON - Hedge fund firm Man Group announces a share buyback and bumps up its dividend, sending its stock price soaring, after it draws more new investment in the last quarter of 2013 that help it beat full-year profit forecasts. (MAN-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Simon Jessop, 460 words)

South Africa platinum strike talks to resume Friday -Implats

JOHANNESBURG - Talks between the world's top three platinum producers and South Africa's striking AMCU union will resume on Friday in an effort to end a five-week stoppage over wages, the chief executive of Impala Platinum (Implats) says. (IMPLATS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Ed Stoddard, 635 words)

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