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TOP STORIES

Russian stocks plunge to 2009 lows as Crimea sanctions loom

MOSCOW - Russian stock indexes plunge to lowest levels since 2009, two days before a referendum in Crimea that is expected to provoke western sanctions against Russia; the rouble continues to decline despite a central bank decision to keep an emergency rise in interest rates in place for the coming months. (RUSSIA-STOCKS/MICEX (UPDATE 2), expect by 1200 GMT/8 AM ET, by Jason Bush, 800 words)

Ukraine anxiety triggers push to safety, stocks tumble

LONDON - Heightened tensions ahead of Ukraine's weekend referendum in Crimea push world stocks to their lowest in a month as investors turn to traditional safe-havens like gold, the yen and bonds. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4), moved, by Marc Jones, 800 words)

+ See also:

- EMERGING-MARKETS, moved, by Carolyn Cohn, 400 words

Govt backs Bouygues on SFR bid as Vivendi board meets

PARIS - France's industry minister weighs into the battle for telecoms company SFR, the day the board of parent Vivendi is expected to pick a winner, to point out "problems" with the bid from cable group Numericable. (VIVENDI-SFR/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Leila Abboud, 700 words)

Barclays reviewing shape, size of investment bank

LONDON - Barclays is reviewing the size and shape of its investment bank, which is expected to result in it shrinking and focusing on its most profitable areas, people familiar with the matter say. (BARCLAYS-INVESTMENTBANK/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1130 GMT/7.30 AM ET, by Steve Slater, 600 words)

+ See also:

- BARCLAYS-ASIAPAC/, moved, 100 words

INVESTMENT

Local investors another headache for emerging markets

LONDON - Local institutional investors give another headache for emerging markets as they become increasingly attracted to more liquid and stable overseas investments in the face of changing regulation and strengthening foreign currencies. (EMERGING/INVESTMENT (ANALYSIS), expect by 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Natsuko Waki, 800 words)

Beyond the hype, Keystone would yield few permanent jobs

STEELE CITY, Nebraska - In the heated debate over whether to build the Keystone XL pipeline, the energy industry and lawmakers have predicted that the project could unleash an economic bonanza in the Midwest, and provide jobs for up to a half-million people. (USA-KEYSTONE/ (INSIGHT, PICTURE), moved, by Alistair Bell, 1,590 words)

ECONOMY

Pressure on oil to ease despite global tension - IEA

LONDON - A surge in supply from Iraq and other oil producers should be more than sufficient to meet growing demand this year, easing pressure on markets despite rising international tensions, the West's energy watchdog says. (IEA (UPDATE 1), expect by 1030 GMT/6.30 AM ET, by Christopher Johnson and David Sheppard, 650 words)

UK trade deficit widens as exports hit 19-month low

LONDON - Britain's goods trade deficit widens by more than expected in January as exports fall to their lowest level in more than a year and a half, official data shows. (BRITAIN-TRADE/, moved, 300 words)

COMPANIES

Temasek-led group offers $2.1 bln for remaining Olam shares

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG - A Temasek-led shareholders group has offered to pay $2.1 billion in cash for shares in Olam International Ltd they don't already own, putting the heft of the Singapore state investor behind the commodity trading firm's weak balance sheet. (OLAM-TEMASEK/ (UPDATE 3, PICTURE), moved, by Rachel Armstrong and Michael Flaherty, 790 words)

More firms weigh IPOs as biotech fever reaches Europe

LONDON/ZURICH - Biotech fever is spreading to Europe from the United States with a successful stock market debut for a cat allergy company in Britain seen as a bellwether that could help unlock listings in other countries including Switzerland and France. (BIOTECH-IPOS/EUROPE, moved, by Ben Hirschler and Caroline Copley, 1,060 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-PHARMACEUTICALS/, moved, by Ben Hirschler, 415 words

Porsche expects operating profit to at least match 2013

STUTTGART, Germany - German sports-car maker Porsche expects operating profit this year to at least match last year's record of 2.58 billion euros ($3.59 billion), the company says. (PORSCHE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 250 words)

Panama Canal building consortium signs expansion deal

MADRID - A building consortium led by Spain's Sacyr says in a statement it has signed an agreement to complete the expansion of the Panama Canal, a project which has been under threat because of a cost dispute. (PANAMA-CANAL/BUILDER, moved, 100 words)

Online retailer boohoo.com makes strong market debut

LONDON - Shares in British online fashion retailer boohoo.com jumps by more than 50 percent in debut trade on London's AIM market, giving the firm a value of around 870 million pounds ($1.45 billion). (BOOHOO-LISTING/, moved, 255 words)

U.S. watchdog says 303 deaths linked to recalled GM cars

DETROIT - U.S. safety regulators have records 303 deaths when airbags failed to deploy in 1.6 million compact cars recalled last month by General Motors Co, according to a study released Thursday night by a safety watchdog group. (GM-RECALL/CASUALTIES (UPDATE 2), moved, by Paul Lienert,750 words)

China's central bank halts Tencent, Alibaba mobile payments

HONG KONG/BEIJING - China's central bank demands that payments made by scanning a bar code with mobile devices be halted, hitting the payment arms of Internet companies Tencent and Alibaba, amid concerns over the security of their verification procedures. (CHINA-CENTRALBANK/TENCENT-ALIBABA-PAYMENTS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Hongmei Zhao and Heng Xie, 675 words)