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Thu Mar 6, 2014 8:49am EST

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TOP STORIES

ECB holds rates, looks at back door measure to loosen policy

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank leaves interest rates unchanged, holding its nerve in the face of uncomfortably low inflation though it may unleash other measures to pep up a fragile euro zone recovery. (ECB/RATES (UPDATE 2), expect by 1430 GMT/9.30 AM ET, by Leika Kihara, 580 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-BOE/, moved, by Ana Nicolaci da Costa, 400 words

- BRITAIN BOE/REINVEST, moved, 100 words

Stocks rise on Ukraine diplomacy, ECB easing speculation

PARIS/LONDON - World shares rise, supported by diplomatic efforts to cool the crisis in Ukraine, while the euro holds steady on speculation the European Central Bank could unveil further action to support the euro zone's economic recovery. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moved, by Blaise Robinson, 700 words)

Crimea votes to join Russia, accelerating Ukraine crisis

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine - Crimea's parliament votes to join Russia and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the decision in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/ (WRAPUP 6, TV, PICTURE, GRAPHICS), expect by 1430 GMT/9.30 AM ET, by Luke Baker and Elizabeth Piper, 1,525 words)

+ See also:

- EU-RUSSIA/SANCTIONS-OPTIONS (FACTBOX), moved, 520 words

Italy prosecutors suspect Roche, Novartis of manipulation

ROME - Italian prosecutors looking at allegations of collusion between Roche and Novartis over the use of cancer drugs suspect the two companies of possible market manipulation and aggravated fraud, judicial sources say. (NOVARTIS-ROCHE/ITALY (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 250 words)

INSIGHT

Online sleuthing by Mt. Gox dispossessed throws up few clues

SINGAPORE - Some of those who have lost bitcoins in the collapse of Mt. Gox have turned to internet sleuthing to find out where their money has gone - but they're unlikely to have much luck. (BITCOIN-MTGOX/CYBERSLEUTHS (PICTURE), moved, by Jeremy Wagstaff, 1,300 words)

+ See also:

- BITCOIN-DEATH/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Jeremy Wagstaff and Rujun Shen, 640 words

ECONOMY

U.S. jobless claims tumble to three-month low

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected and hit a three-month low last week, a sign of strength in a labour market that has been hobbled by severe weather. (USA-ECONOMY/JOBS, moved, 330 words)

Top banks seen meeting capital rules well before deadline

LONDON - The world's top banks have already added most of the capital they need to meet new solvency rules in full, five years ahead of a 2019 deadline set by regulators, global banking supervisors says. (BASEL-BANKS/CAPITAL (UPDATE 1), moved, by Huw Jones, 415 words)

German industrial orders post 1.2 pct rise, beat forecast

BERLIN - German industrial orders rise 1.2 percent in January, almost twice as much as forecast, as both domestic and export markets gave momentum, reinforcing hopes the German economy will shake off the weakness it suffered in 2013. (GERMANY-ORDERS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 380 words)

COMPANIES

Bouygues bids for Vivendi's SFR to create telco powerhouse

PARIS - Bouygues makes an offer for larger telecom rival SFR, which promises a bigger potential payday for seller Vivendi than a competing offer from Numericable but has more regulatory risks. (BOUYGUES-VIVENDI/SFR (UPDATE 3, PICTURE), moving shortly, by Leila Abboud and Matthieu Protard, 870 words)

Cinven hires banks for possible $2.5 bln Spire sale -sources

LONDON - Buyout firm Cinven has hired banks to sell its UK hospital chain Spire Healthcare in a potential 1.5 billion pound ($2.51 billion) deal, aiming to benefit from other funds' appetite and a lack of available assets, several sources familiar with the matter says. (CINVEN-SPIRE/ (EXCLUSIVE), moving shortly, 500 words)

Deutsche Telekom US spending plans to hit cash flow

BONN, Germany - Deutsche Telekom AG dashes hopes for a recovery in dividend payments by 2015 after scrapping its outlook for free cash flow to spend more money to win customers in the United States. (DEUTSCHETELEKOM-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Harro Ten Wolde, 720 words)

+ See also:

- ORANGE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Leila Abboud and Gwénaëlle Barzic, 590 words

Monte Paschi's biggest investor denies stake sale

MILAN - The biggest shareholder in Monte dei Paschi di Siena denies press reports that it has sold a stake of at least 8 percent in Italy's third-largest bank. (MONTEPASCHI-FOUNDATION/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Silvia Aloisi, 500 words)

Costco quarterly profit misses estimates

Warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp's quarterly profit falls 15 percent, missing analysts' estimates, hurt by weaker gross margins in its fresh-food business and some non-foods merchandises. (COSTCO-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Aditi Shrivastava, 515 words)

Russia's Vimpelcom slumps to Q4 loss after Ukraine writedown

MOSCOW - Russia's third-biggest mobile phone operator Vimpelcom falls to a fourth-quarter net loss, missing analysts' expectations, mainly due to writing down the value of its assets in Ukraine following recent turmoil in the country. (RUSSIA-VIMPELCOM/ (UPDATE 3), moving shortly, by Megan Davies and Maria Kiselyova, 600 words)

Germany's solar sell-off: picking up the remaining pieces

FRANKFURT - Foreign investors are looking to snap up what is left of Germany's once-booming solar industry, in time to benefit from an expected global recovery in the sector. (GERMANY-SOLAR/, moved, by Christoph Steitz, 645 words)

Aviva CEO says turnaround to continue as profits rise

LONDON - British insurer Aviva unveils a forecast-beating 6 percent rise in operating profit, one year into a turnaround drive that has seen 2,000 lay-offs and sales of underperforming businesses. (AVIVA/RESULTS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Chris Vellacott, 400 words)

+ See also:

- SCHRODERS-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Jemima Kelly, 390 words

- STANDARDBANK/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura, 575 words)

S.Africa's Eskom imposes first blackouts in six years

JOHANNESBURG - The South African state power utility Eskom imposes rolling blackouts for the first time since 2008, forcing rail networks and banks to switch to emergency generators after heavy rains soaked power station coal supplies. (SAFRICA-ESKOM/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Ed Stoddard, 420 words)

+ See also:

- CONGO-DEMOCRATIC/MINING, expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Peter Jones, 500 words