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TOP STORIES

China brakes as euro zone gears up

LONDON - China's huge manufacturing engine stutters in the early part of 2014 while a return to growth in French business activity this month suggests a solid, broad-based recovery is taking shape in the euro zone, surveys show. (GLOBAL-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP), moved, 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 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Nigel Stephenson, 730 words)

+ See also:

- MARKETS-EMERGING/, moved, by Sujata Rao, 700 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 3), moving shortly, by Jussi Rosendahl, 600 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

INVESTMENT

Investors pile into Greece and Portugal on recovery bet

LONDON - Yield-hungry investors are flocking back to Greek and Portuguese markets, shunned by international buyers for four years, as the outlook for the bailed-out countries improves and alternatives look more expensive or increasingly risky. (MARKETS-EUROPE/PORTUGALGREECE (GRAPHICS), moved, by Francesco Canepa and Marius Zaharia, 890 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)

EU states in Russia's shadow fearful about tougher sanctions

WARSAW/PRAGUE - The European Union states that used to be behind the Iron Curtain have most to fear from Russian aggression, yet also most to lose from imposing sanctions, and for now the fear of losing money is winning out. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/EAST-SANCTIONS, moved, by Christian Lowe and Robert Muller, 850 words)

+ See also:

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/EAST-SANCTIONS (FACTBOX), moved, 720 words

Mild weather sets German economy off to good start - Bundesbank

FRANKFURT - A warm winter will give Germany's economy a strong lift in the first three months of the year, the country's central bank says, sending a further encouraging signal that Europe is emerging from recession. (BUNDESBANK-GERMANY/, moved, 225 words)

ECB keeping eye on euro exchange rate -Liikanen

HELSINKI - The European Central Bank keeps a close eye on the euro exchange rate to see how it affects inflation, and it stands ready to act if the inflation rate appears headed in the wrong direction, ECB Governing Council member Erkki Liikanen says. (ECB/LIIKANEN (UPDATE 1), moved, by Sakari Suoninen, 555 words)

+ See also:

- BANKOFFINLAND/PROFIT, moved, 100 words

BOJ tankan to show business mood up but outlook dims

TOKYO - Japanese manufacturers' mood probably improved in the three months to March but it will likely weaken the following quarter due to concerns that a sales tax hike may dent the pace of the economic recovery, a Reuters poll showed. (JAPAN-ECONOMY/TANKAN (PREVIEW), moved, by Kaori Kaneko, 570 words)

+ See also:

- JAPAN-ECONOMY/BOJ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Leika Kihara, 600 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)

COMPANIES

Gunvor reassures on sanctions, moves ahead on $665 mln loan

LONDON - Commodity trader Gunvor has reassures lenders the firm will avoid U.S. sanctions under its new ownership structure as it presses ahead with plans to raise a $665 million syndicated loan, bankers says. (RUSSIA-LOANS/, moved, 440 words)

+ See also:

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/GUNVOR (NEWSMAKER, PICTURE), moved, by Dmitry Zhdannikov, 1,115 words

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)

UK's Co-op Bank seeks $660 mln to cover mis-selling costs

LONDON - Britain's Co-operative Bank needs to raise another 400 million pounds ($660 million) to cover the cost of past misconduct, dealing a fresh blow to the lender which promotes its ethical standards but has been hit by a funding gap and drugs scandal. (CO-OP-BANK/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Matt Scuffham, 740 words)

BNP Paribas targets investment-banking lift

PARIS - BNP Paribas, France's biggest listed bank, says its investment banking arm will post a compound annual growth rate of revenue above 6 percent over the next three years through a plan to expand outside Europe and boost product cross-selling. (BNPPARIBAS-STRATEGY/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Lionel Laurent and Matthias Blamont, 565 words)

Top oil trader Vitol reports 2013 revenues of $307 billion

LONDON - Vitol, the world's biggest oil trader, sees its revenues hold broadly unchanged in 2013 as profit margins are hit by growing competition and changing trade flows. (VITOL-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 200 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)

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)