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TOP STORIES

China brakes as France flourishes

LONDON - China's huge manufacturing engine has a poor start to 2014 but a return to growth in French business activity this month points to a more solid, broad-based recovery in the euro zone economy, surveys show. (GLOBAL-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP), expect by 1130 GMT/7.30 AM ET, by Jonathan Cable, 700 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/PMI (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moved, by Adam Rose, 740 words

China data hits Europe shares, Crimea keeps nerves taut

LONDON - European shares edge lower after further signs of a slowdown in China, although robust data from France and Germany limited their decline. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), expect by 1030 GMT/6.30 AM ET, by Nigel Stephenson, 730 words)

China demands explanation from U.S. on Huawei spying report

BEIJING - China wants a clear explanation from Washington over a report that the U.S. National Security Agency infiltrated servers at the headquarters of telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co., a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman says. (CHINA-UNITEDSTATES/NSA (UPDATE 1), moved, 190 words)

+ See also:

- HUAWEI-NSA/SECURITY, moved, 635 words

Nokia sees closure of Microsoft deal delayed to April

HELSINKI - Nokia does not expect to close the sale of its phone business to Microsoft until April as talks with Asian regulators drag on, it says, fuelling speculation it may have to make more concessions to get the deal done. (NOKIA-MICROSOFT/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Jussi Rosendahl, 450 words)

INSIGHT

Russia's leading role in the Indonesian mining revolution

JAKARTA - Russia's two metal giants have emerged as big winners from Indonesia's new mining law, after leading a drive to get Jakarta to stick to its controversial mineral ore export ban in the face of opposition from miners and Asian buyers. (INDONESIA-MINERALS/ (INSIGHT, PICTURE), moved, by Randy Fabi and Fergus Jensen, 1,000 words)

EMERGING MARKETS

Emerging Europe - the new hunting ground for bad loan investors

WARSAW/BUDAPEST - Central and eastern European countries are turning up the pressure on banks to clean up their balance sheets, creating new opportunities for bad loan investors that are seeing returns dwindle in recovering euro zone economies. (CEE-BANKS/LOAN-SALES, moved, by Marcin Goclowski and Gergely Szakacs, 1,165 words)

ECONOMY

Fed guessing game intensifies while West isolates Russia

BRUSSELS - The guessing game over U.S. interest rates is likely to intensify this week after new Fed Chair Janet Yellen raised the prospect of a hike early next year, while Russia's annexation of Crimea will keep investors focused on its next move. (ECONOMY/GLOBAL (GLOBAL ECONOMY WEEKAHEAD), moved, by Robin Emmott, 950 words)

Euro zone inflation could stay low for longer than expected, says Bank of Finland

HELSINKI - Inflation in the euro zone could stay low for longer than previously thought, potentially causing difficulties in rebalancing the economy, the Bank of Finland says in its quarterly bulletin. (ECB/LIIKANEN, moved, 400 words)

+ See also:

- BANKOFFINLAND/PROFIT , moved, 100 words

BOJ's Iwata warns of deflation risk if inflation stays below 1 pct

KITA-KYUSHU, Japan - Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata warns that inflation staying below 1 percent for a long period of time is "dangerous" as it heightens the risk of deflation. (JAPAN-ECONOMY/BOJ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Leika Kihara, 600 words)

China economic growth on track, no immediate need for stimulus - ADB

BEIJING - China's economy may still grow around 7.5 percent this year despite signs of a slowdown, and there is no immediate need for the government to roll out fresh stimulus measures, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao says. (ADB-CHINA/NAKAO (INTERVIEW, UPDATE 1), moved, by Kevin Yao, 680 words)

Many business economists see first U.S. rate hike this year

WASHINGTON - Many business economists expect the Federal Reserve to start raising U.S. interest rates as early as this year, in contrast to forecasts on Wall Street where the consensus is much more solidly in 2015. (USA-ECONOMY/RATES, moved, 330 words)

Australia tobacco sales edge up despite plain packaging -industry

LONDON - Deliveries of tobacco to retailers in Australia rose slightly last year for the first time in at least five years, even after the introduction of plain packaging aimed at deterring smokers, according to industry sales figures to be released on Monday. (TOBACCO-DATA/, moved, by Martinne Geller, 595 words)

EU's plans for growth to bring shadow banking in from the cold

LONDON - European Commission proposals due to be published on Thursday on how to fund long-term investments to boost Europe's economies brings the start of a rehabilitation for the image of "shadow banking", the largely unregulated market-based provision of credit which lay at the heart of the financial crisis. (EU-REGULATIONS/, moved, by Huw Jones, 735 words)

COMPANIES

Standard Life in advanced talks to buy Phoenix asset management unit

British life insurance and pensions group Standard Life has announced it is in "exclusive and advanced" talks to buy rival Phoenix Group Holdings' Ignis Asset Management. (PHOENIX GROUP-STANDARD LIFE/OFFER, moved, 230 words)

Britain's Co-Op Bank seeks 400 mln pound capital boost

LONDON - Britain's troubled Co-operative Bank says it plans to raise around 400 million pounds ($660 million) of additional funds via new shares after finding that its capital position was weaker than initially thought. (CO-OP-BANK/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Matt Scuffham, 350 words)

Japanese banks to invest in $3bln CVC Asia private equity fund

HONG KONG - Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank have agreed to invest in CVC Capital Partners Ltd's fourth Asian fund, which is seeking to raise around $3 billion. (JAPAN-INVESTMENT/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Taiga Uranaka and Stephen Aldred, 400 words)

Gunvor pins future on Swedish CEO after Russian co-founder exits

NEW YORK - In 2007, when Torbjorn Tornqvist first emerged from the shadows of the Geneva-based oil trading empire he helped build, he had one message to tell: Russian President Vladimir Putin has nothing to do with Gunvor. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/GUNVOR (NEWSMAKER, PICTURE), moved, by Dmitry Zhdannikov, 1,115 words)

Shell sees 'minor' impact in higher U.S. gas exports to Europe

GOYANG, South Korea - Growing interest in sending more U.S. natural gas to Europe does not hold a big threat for Asian gas markets, although such exports would help improve spot market liquidity for the super-chilled form of the fuel, a Shell executive says. (SHELL-GAS/ (INTERVIEW), moved, by Meeyoung Cho, 515 words)

Braced for weakest growth, China liquor king eyes rebound

SHANGHAI - Kweichow Moutai, whose premium, fiery liquor "baijiu" has been hit by a fierce luxury crackdown in China, is winning back investors with cut-price deals and online tie-ups, even as it braces for its weakest ever growth when it reveals full-year earnings on Monday. (MOUTAI-RESULTS/, moved, by Adam Jourdan, 600 words)

With Nordic clean-up done, Cevian prepares new broom for Germany

STOCKHOLM - Such is the weight of Christer Gardell's voice in Europe that Volvo's share price jumped 4 percent one day in January when a Swedish business daily ran a front-page story on the activist investor calling on the truckmaker to "start delivering". (CEVIAN-GARDELL/ (INSIGHT, GRAPHIC), moved, by Mia Shanley, 1,520 words)

Hutchison shares in biggest drop in 2-1/5 yrs after Watson stake sale

HONG KONG - Shares of Hutchison Whampoa slide 6 percent, their biggest drop in 2-1/2 years, after Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings agrees to buy just under a quarter of its health and beauty retailer for $5.7 billion. (HUTCHISON-STOCKS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Donny Kwok, 400 words)

China credit strains rise as Beijing embraces failure

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI - Credit warning signs are flashing for heavily indebted Chinese semiconductor, software and commodities firms as the government cautiously steps aside to let market forces play a bigger role in deciding winners and losers. (CHINA-DEBT/ (PICTURE), moved, by Umesh Desai and Gabriel Wildau, 1,000 words)

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