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TOP STORIES

China stimulus hopes, Ukraine calm lift market mood

LONDON - A growing sense that China may take steps to bolster growth and efforts by the West to draw a provisional line under the Ukraine crisis helps lift share and commodity markets out of their recent slump. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), expect by 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Marc Jones, 750 words)

Odds narrow on China stimulus as Q1 economy seen weakest in 5 years

BEIJING - The odds of Beijing intervening to support the sluggish Chinese economy are narrowing following a slew of data that points to the weakest growth for China since the global financial crisis. (CHINA-ECONOMY/ (PICTURE), moved, 1,000 words)

Union warns of industrial action as Royal Mail cuts 1,300 jobs

LONDON - Just five months after its privatisation, Britain's Royal Mail postal service has announced plans to cut a net 1,300 jobs to reduce costs, prompting a threat of industrial action from a trade union. (BRITAIN-ROYAL MAIL/EMPLOYMENT (UPDATE 2), moved, by Neil Maidment, 370 words)

Hundreds rush to rural Chinese banks after solvency rumours

SHANGHAI - Hundreds of people rush to withdraw money from branches of two small Chinese banks after rumours spread about solvency at one of them, reflecting growing anxiety among investors as regulators signal greater tolerance for credit defaults. (CHINA-BANKING/YANCHENG (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moved, by Gabriel Wildau and Kazunori Takada, 735 words)

ECONOMY

ECB's Weidmann says quantitative easing not out of the question

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank could buy loans and other assets from banks to help support the euro zone economy, Germany's Bundesbank has said, marking a radical softening of its stance on the contested policy. (ECB/WEIDMANN (UPDATE 2), moved, 800 words)

+ See also:

- ECB-MAKUCH/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 200 words

German business morale sours on Ukraine crisis in March

BERLIN - German business morale drops for the first time in five months in March as firms in Europe's largest economy begins to worry that a standoff with Russia and further sanctions over Ukraine will hurt them in a key market. (GERMANY-IFO/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 370 words)

Turkish vote result may affect growth outlook -finance minister

BATMAN, Turkey - Turkey could see risks to its growth forecasts this year if local election results on Sunday fail to produce a decisive win for the ruling party, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek says in an interview. (TURKEY-ECONOMY/ (INTERVIEW, UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Orhan Coskun, 500 words)

In cutting rates to new low, Hungary shrugs off weak forint

BUDAPEST - Hungary's central bank cut its base rate by another 10 basis points to 2.6 percent, shrugging off the forint's slide to near two-year lows and market anxieties over Ukraine. (HUNGARY-RATES/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Gergely Szakacs, 520 words)

U.S. home prices rise in January - S&P/Case-Shiller

NEW YORK - U.S. single-family home prices rise in January and slightly beat expectations, a closely watched survey say. (USA-ECONOMY/HOMES-INDEX, moved, 145 words)

UK inflation hits new 4-year low in Feb, house prices up sharply

LONDON - British inflation falls to its lowest in more than four years in February, dipping further below the Bank of England's target and easing the pressure on Britain's living standards. (BRITAIN-INFLATION/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and David Milliken, 695 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-RETAIL/CBI, moved, 180 words

COMPANIES

Centrica buys Irish energy supplier as profits sink at home

LONDON - Britain's Centrica and its consortium partners say they will buy the retail arm and other assets of Ireland's state-owned Bord Gais for 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion), helping the utility expand abroad as it is losing customers at home. (CENTRICA/BORDGAIS (UPDATE 1), moved, 335 words)

Eyeing Alibaba IPO, bankers skipped lucrative mandates

HONG KONG - Every big bank in town wanted a piece of the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd initial public offering, set to be the biggest technology listing ever. So much so that, according to Thomson Reuters data, major banks skipped an estimated $100 million in combined fees they could have made from work for other clients over the past year. (ALIBABA GROUP-FEES/ (DEALTALK), moved, by Denny Thomas, 890 words)

Sanofi faces make-or-break verdict on big dengue vaccine bet

NEUVILLE-SUR-SAONE, France - Sanofi expects final clinical results for its vaccine against dengue by late September, the French drugmaker's project leader has told Reuters, and has already gambled on starting production despite some disappointing early trials data. (SANOFI-DENGUE/ (PICTURE), moved, by Natalie Huet and Noƫlle Mennella, 920 words)

Troubled RSA launches 773 million pound rights issue

LONDON - Troubled British insurer RSA has detailed plans for a 773 million pounds ($1.3 billion) share issue designed to boost its finances in the wake of costly weather-related claims and accounting irregularities in its Irish business. (RSA INS GRP/ISSUE (UPDATE 2), moved, by Chris Vellacott, Kate Holton and Huw Jones, 455 words)

Union calls for strike at German airports on Thursday morning

FRANKFURT - Passengers travelling through Germany's major airports, including Frankfurt and Munich, face delays on Thursday after trade union Verdi calls on public sector workers to take part in strike action to put pressure on employers in pay talks. (GERMANY-AIRPORT/STRIKE (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 250 words)

Ray-Ban maker Luxottica clinches Google Glass deal

MILAN - Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban sunglasses, has struck a deal to design, develop and distribute glasses based on Google's Internet-connected Glass eyewear, potentially bringing the new technology to a wider market. (LUXOTTICA GROUP-GOOGLE/GLASS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Stephen Jewkes, 245 words)

Siemens doubles investment plan for UK wind turbine factory

LONDON - German engineering group Siemens says it had doubled the money it plans to invest in building an offshore wind turbine factory and an installation facility in Britain to 160 million pounds ($263.8 million). (SIEMENS/BRITAIN, moved, 280 words)

Kingfisher to reward shareholders after revamp pays off

LONDON - Kingfisher, Europe's No. 1 home improvement retailer, set out plans for a multi-million pound programme of extra rewards for shareholders, underscoring the strength of its recent performance and helping lift its shares to a 14-year high. (KINGFISHER-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by James Davey, 680 words)

Julius Baer raises stake in Brazilian wealth manager GPS

ZURICH - Julius Baer has acquired a majority stake in Brazilian wealth manager GPS, raising its bet on Latin America's largest wealth management market. (JULIUS BAER/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Caroline Copley, 450 words)

S.Africa platinum strike causing "irreparable" damage - producers

JOHANNESBURG - Platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin says a strike now in its ninth week at their South African mines was causing irreparable damage to the sector and local economy. (SAFRICA-STRIKE/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Xola Potelwa, 480 words)

U.S. prosecutors eye new approach on company misconduct after Toyota

WASHINGTON - U.S. prosecutors are considering using the legal theory behind a $1.2 billion penalty imposed on Toyota to go after misconduct in industries ranging from auto and airplane makers to mining, a Justice Department official told Reuters. (USA-AUTOS/ACCOUNTABILITY, moved, by Aruna Viswanatha, 680 words)

RBS in contact with Sumitomo over Citizens sale -sources

LONDON/TOKYO - Royal Bank of Scotland has had contact regarding the possible sale of its U.S. retail business Citizens with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group has also considered a bid, people with knowledge of the matter says. (RBS-CITIZENS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Matt Scuffham and Taiga Uranaka, 520 words)

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