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TOP STORIES

Russian shares tumble on tougher U.S. sanctions over Ukraine

MOSCOW/BRUSSELS - Russian shares fall sharply in contrast to Kremlin defiance as investors take fright at tougher than expected U.S. sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's inner circle over Moscow's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/ (WRAPUP 1, TV, PICTURE, GRAPHICS), expect by 1030 GMT/6.30 AM ET, by Jason Bush and Barbara Lewis, 1,000 words)

+ See also:

- URKAINE-CRISIS/SANCTIONS-BANKROSSIYA (UPDATE 1), expect by 1030 GMT/6.30 AM ET, 700 words

What does U.S. know about Putin's oil wealth?

NEW YORK - The most startling part of Washington's sanctions on Russian businessmen loyal to President Vladimir Putin may be a single sentence that contains an explosive allegation: that Putin himself profits from the world's No. 4 oil trading company, Gunvor. (UKRAINE CRISIS/GUNVOR PUTIN, moved, by Dmitry Zhdannikov, 1,060 words)

World markets steady after Fed policy ructions

LONDON - World markets steady after a volatile run driven by speculation over shifts in U.S. monetary policy, with stocks up slightly, Bunds flat and the euro at a two-week low against the dollar. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (UPDATE 5), expect by 1100 GMT/7 AM ET, by Simon Jessop, 680 words)

+ See also:

- EMERGING-MARKETS/, expect by 1015 GMT/6.15 AM ET, by Carolyn Cohn, 500 words

China yuan band widening a sign of caution, not reform zeal

BEIJING - Paradoxical as it may sound, China's move to give the yuan more wiggle room is a sign of caution and deepening concern about the slowing economy rather than a promise of Beijing's vigorous pursuit of market reforms, government economists say. (CHINA-ECONOMY/REFORMS, moved, by Kevin Yao, 900 words)

RUSSIA

Putin looks to Asia as West threatens to isolate Russia

MOSCOW - When President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty this week annexing Crimea to great fanfare in the Kremlin and anger in the West, a trusted lieutenant was making his way to Asia to shore up ties with Russia's eastern allies. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/RUSSIA-ASIA (INSIGHT, TV, PICTURE, GRAPHICS), moved, by Timothy Heritage and Vladimir Soldatkin, 1,470 words)

Businesses fear ripple effect of 'cosmetic sanctions'

U.S. and European sanctions against Russia are already having a ripple effect beyond their immediate targets fuelling fears that the restrictions, seen as "cosmetic" by some will cut deep. (EUROPE/SANCTIONS, expect by 1200 GMT/8 AM ET, by Lionel Laurent and Megan Davies, 600)

Geo-political risks doom Russian shares to cheapness

LONDON - If Russia's perennially depressed share valuations ever baffled anyone, President Vladimir Putin's Ukraine adventure has solved the mystery: huge geo-political risks doom the market to be priced well below its emerging peers. (RUSSIA-VALUATIONS (graphic), expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Sujata Rao, 800 words)

Remarkable market calm reflects investor uneasiness

LONDON - Global financial markets show little sign of distress in the face of political tensions over Russia and the prospect of an early U.S. interest rate rise. Are investors complacent? (MARKETS-VOLATILITY (ANALYSIS), expect 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Natsuko Waki, 700 words)

INSIGHT

Rough road ahead for GM as U.S. Congress plots safety probe

WASHINGTON - The U.S. congressional investigation into General Motors Co automobile defects will bring aggressive scrutiny to a company with powerful lobbying clout and strong ties on Capitol Hill. (GM-RECALL/CONGRESS (INSIGHT, PICTURE), moved, by Richard Cowan, 1,265 words)

ECONOMY

UK public finances on course for govt borrowing targets

LONDON - Britain's public finances showed an improvement in February, two days after finance minister George Osborne announced a cut to government borrowing forecasts for this fiscal year and next. (BRITAIN BORROWING/, moved, 300 words)

S&P affirms Greece's rating, citing rebalancing economy

ATHENS - Standard & Poor's affirmed Greece's sovereign credit rating and give it a stable outlook, saying it believes the country's economy was gradually rebalancing. (GREECE-RATINGS/, moved, 355 words)

China says deal reached to end probe into European wine

BEIJING - China's commerce minister said the country had reached a deal to end an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into European wine imports, ahead of a trip to Europe by its president next week. (CHINA-EUROPE/WINE (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 440 words)

COMPANIES

Spain's Bankia tests turnaround at shareholder meeting

VALENCIA, Spain - Spain's Bankia is facing some of its fiercest critics on Friday, the thousands of small investors who lost money in the country's biggest-ever corporate bail-out, as it seeks to sell its recovery at a shareholder meeting. (SPAIN-BANKIA/ (UPDATE 1, PICTURE), expect by 1200 GMT/8 AM ET, by Jesus Aguado, 700 words)

Maersk expects P3 alliance to operate from mid-2014

COPENHAGEN - Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk says it expects the so-called P3 alliance to operate from mid-2014. (MAERSK-P3ALLIANCE/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 350 words)

Downsized Dutch banks start again in tough local market

AMSTERDAM - Dutch banks ABN Amro and ING, once the pride of Amsterdam's international financial hub, are emerging from government bailouts to face a very different future in their local markets. (DUTCH-BANKS/RESURRECTION (PICTURE), moved, by Laura Noonan, 940 words)

Australia's Rinehart seals funding for $10 bln ore project

MELBOURNE - Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart has secured $7.2 billion in debt for her Roy Hill iron ore mining project, completing all the funding for a giant mine in Western Australia due to start exporting in late 2015. (AUSTRALIA-ROYHILL/DEBT (UPDATE 3), moved, by Sonali Paul, 635 words)

Rising energy demand a threat to water supplies - UN

OSLO - Rising demand for energy, from biofuels to shale gas, is a threat to freshwater supplies that are already under strain from climate change, the United Nations says in a report. (ENVIRONMENT-WATER/, moved, by Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, 510 words)

Myanmar's log export ban to hurt businessmen but help forests

YANGON - Myanmar will ban the export of raw timber logs from April 1, choking off profits in a sector that provided critical funding to the country's former military rulers for decades, as a new reformist government steps up efforts to save forests. (MYANMAR-FORESTS/ (FEATURE, PICTURE, GRAPHIC), moved, by Jared Ferrie, 1,000 words)

Bitcoin: Financial revolution the web's been waiting for

NEW YORK - Bitcoin may not be the messiah of a new currency its hardcore fans yearn for, but it may herald the deeper financial revolution the internet has been waiting for. (BITCOIN-FUTURE/ (PICTURE), moved, by Jeremy Wagstaff, 1400 words)

+ See also

- BITCOIN-MTGOX/WALLET (UPDATE 1, PICTURE), moved, 425 words)