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TOP STORIES

Putin signs Crimea annexation, Russia investors take fright

MOSCOW/BRUSSELS - President Vladimir Putin signs laws completing Russia's annexation of Crimea, as investors take fright at a U.S. decision to slap sanctions on his inner circle of money men and security officials. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/ (WRAPUP 3, TV, PICTURE, GRAPHICS), expect by 1500 GMT/11 AM ET, by Steve Gutterman and Barbara Lewis, 1,060 words)

+ See also:

- URKAINE-CRISIS/SANCTIONS-BANKROSSIYA (UPDATE 1), expect by 1330 GMT/9.30 AM ET, 700 words

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/EU-AGREEMENT (UPDATE 2, PICTURE, TV), moved, by Adrian Croft and Justyna Pawlak, 750 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 6), moved, by Simon Jessop, 680 words)

+ See also:

- MARKETS-EMERGING/, moved, by Carolyn Cohn, 500 words

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)

SANCTIONS AGAINST 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 effects from Russian sanctions

PARIS/MOSCOW - U.S. and European sanctions against Russia are already having a ripple effect beyond their immediate targets, with Visa and MasterCard halting payment transaction services for clients of a bank not even on the blacklist. (EUROPE/SANCTIONS, moved, by Lionel Laurent and Megan Davies, 830 words)

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 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Sujata Rao, 800 words)

INVESTMENT

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? (INVESTMENT-VOLATILITY/ (ANALYSIS), moved, by Natsuko Waki, 700 words)

EU executive plans to promote crowdfunding sector

LONDON - A European Union "quality label" and possible state aid for crowdfunding would help the 1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) sector grow to fund economic growth, the bloc's executive body said in a document seen by Reuters. (EU-CROWDFUNDING/ (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Huw Jones, 300 words)

ECONOMY

Fed's Kocherlakota blasts guidance, wants low rates longer

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve should have promised to keep rates near zero until U.S. unemployment falls below 5.5 percent, as long as inflation and financial stability risks are contained, says the lone dissenter to the Fed's policy decision this week. (USA-FED/KOCHERLAKOTA, moved, by Ann Saphir, 270 words)

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-BORROWINGS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Andy Bruce and William Schomberg, 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)

EU, China end wine dispute ahead of Xi's European tour

BEIJING/BRUSSELS - China and the European Union have reached a deal to end a dispute over European wine exports to China, the latest sign of improving ties and just days before China's president visits Europe. (CHINA-EUROPE/WINE (UPDATE 2), moved, by Ben Blanchard and Francesco Guarascio, 600 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)

Venezuela's dollar shortage puts health in intensive care

CARACAS - While haemophilia sufferer Sergio Tovar lay in agony a Venezuela hospital, relatives scoured hospitals and pharmacies looking for life-saving drugs. Almost everywhere they went it was the same story: lack of dollars meant importers had stopped purchasing the medicine. (VENEZUELA-ECONOMY/HEALTH (PICTURE), moved, by Eyanir Chinea, 840 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), moved, by Jesus Aguado, 700 words)

Media General to buy broadcaster LIN Media for $1.6 bln

Media General Inc says it will buy LIN Media LLC for $1.6 billion to create a broadcaster reaching nearly a quarter of U.S. households with a television. (LINMEDIA-OFFER/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 235 words)

Tiffany gives cautious 2014 forecast

Tiffany & Co struck a cautious note about 2014, giving a profit forecast that was below estimates despite its projection that net worldwide sales will rise by a high-single digit percentage this year. (TIFFANY-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Phil Wahba, 485 words)

Tesco confirms joint venture with Tata in India

LONDON - Britain's Tesco has sealed a joint venture agreement with a unit of India's Tata Group that will see it invest $140 million and become the first foreign supermarket to enter the country's $500 billion pounds retail sector. (TESCO-INDIA/, moved, 200 words)

EU agency backs new drugs from J&J, Lilly, Takeda

LONDON - European regulators says they have recommended approval of new pills for hepatitis C and diabetes from Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly, respectively, and an injectable drug for ulcerative colitis from Takeda. (PHARMACEUTICALS-EUROPE/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 250 words)

Shipping alliance could start mid-2014 - Maersk

SINGAPORE - Denmark's Maersk Line, the world's No.1 container shipping firm, says it expects an alliance with its two closest rivals to start operating from the middle of the year after the tie-up is approved by U.S. regulators. (MAERSK-P3ALLIANCE/ (UPDATE 3), moved, 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)

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