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TOP STORIES

IMF throws Ukraine financial lifeline, Russian economy to slump

KIEV/MOSCOW - Ukraine wins $27 billion international financial lifeline, rushed through in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea, as Moscow's economy minister rues the cost of military action in its former Soviet neighbour. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/ (WRAPUP 2, TV, PICTURE, GRAPHICS), expect by 1630 GMT/12.30 ET, by Natalia Zinets and Elizabeth Piper, 720 words)

+ See also:

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/RUSSIA-ECONOMY, moved, by Darya Korsunskaya and Oksana Kobzeva, 700 words

- UKRAINE-RUSSIA/PUTIN-PAYMENTS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Alexei Anishchuk, 400 words

U.S. fourth-quarter growth raised, jobless claims near four-month low

WASHINGTON - U.S. economic growth was a bit faster than previously estimated in the fourth quarter, displaying underlying strength that could bolster views that the slowdown in activity early in the year will be temporary. (USA-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP 1), moved, by Lucia Mutikani, 570 words)

+ See also:

- USA-FED/BULLARD (UPDATE 3), moved, by Michael Flaherty and Saikat Chatterjee, 570 words

Britain orders anti-trust probe into biggest energy suppliers

LONDON - Britain orders a full anti-trust investigation into its biggest energy suppliers after finding signs of tacit price coordination, launching a process that could result in the break-up of companies including Centrica and SSE. (BRITAIN-ENERGY/RETAIL (UPDATE 3, GRAPHIC, PICTURE), moving shortly, by Karolin Schaps, 790 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-ENERGY/REVIEW-FACTBOX (FACTBOX), moved, 400 words

Frankfurt clinches renminbi trading hub role - sources

BERLIN/FRANKFURT - Germany's financial capital Frankfurt will become the first hub for renminbi payment transactions in Europe with the German and Chinese central banks set to seal the deal this week, two financial sources tell Reuters, pipping a similar move by London. (GERMANY-CHINA/, moved, 340 words)

MARKETS

Euro, peripheral bond yields fall on ECB easing debate

LONDON - The euro falls against the dollar and peripheral European government bond yields hit their lowest levels in years as speculation grows that the European Central Bank may ease monetary policy soon. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4), moved, by Natsuko Waki, 570 words)

Chinese tech shares tumble as weak King debut in U.S. spooks investors

HONG KONG - Shares in Chinese Internet and software companies tumble, tracking losses in U.S.-listed peers, after a weak debut by gaming firm King Digital Entertainment Plc highlight investor concerns that the sector is overpriced. (MARKETS-TECH/CHINA (UPDATE 2), moved, 430 words)

ECONOMY

Bank of England readies tools to rein in risky mortgage lending

LONDON - The Bank of England urges banks to consider the risk of future spikes in interest rates when they approve mortgages, and prepare tools to rein back potentially dangerous lending. (BRITAIN-BOE/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Huw Jones and David Milliken, 725 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN RETAIL/, moved, 300 words

Reuters ECB and BoE monetary policy polls

Reuters has surveyed more than 80 economists on the outlook for the European Central Bank and the Bank of England's monetary policy paths. (ECB-RATES-POLL/, moved, by Deepti Govind, 600 words)

+ See also:

- BOE-RATES-POLL/, moved, by Jonathan Cable, 600 words

Italy's six-month debt cost stays close to euro-era low at auction

MILAN - Italy's six-month borrowing costs inched up to 0.504 percent at auction on Thursday, near a euro lifetime low hit a month ago, as investors continue to favour the higher returns offered by weaker euro zone sovereigns. (ITALY-BILLS/AUCTION, moved, 220 words)

French consumer confidence sees surprise March rebound

PARIS - French consumer confidence rebounds unexpectedly in March in a sign households may at last be seeing signs of economic recovery even though unemployment remains at record levels. (FRANCE-ECONOMY/, moved, 365 words)

Euro zone private sector loans contract further in Feb -ECB

FRANKFURT - Lending to households and firms in the euro zone shrink further in February and money supply growth remains subdued, adding to the European Central Bank's list of concerns ahead of its policy meeting next week. (EUROZONE/M3 (UPDATE 1), moved, 490 words)

+ See also:

- ECB/BUNDESBANK, moved, by Eva Taylor, 700 words

COMPANIES

Fed stress test upset weighs on sale of RBS unit in U.S.

LONDON - Royal Bank of Scotland's separation and flotation of its U.S. business Citizens could be delayed after it was one of three foreign banks which had their plans for dealing with a financial crisis rejected by the U.S. Federal Reserve. (BANKING-EUROPE/USA (UPDATE 2), moved, by Steve Slater, 860 words)

Europe to loosen rules for banks repackaging debt

LONDON/BRUSSELS - The European Union will loosen rules on selling securitised debt, the bloc's regulatory chief says, giving a second chance to products that trigger the worst financial crisis in a generation. (EU-INVESTMENT/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Huw Jones and John O'Donnell, 560 words)

+ See also:

- EU-INVESTMENT/ROAD MAP (FACTBOX), moved, 400 words

Vivendi 'will examine Bouygues offer' - report

PARIS - Vivendi will examine the latest Bouygues offer for its SFR telecoms subsidiary "with all the necessary rigour" while respecting a three-week exclusivity period for negotiations with a rival bidder, newspaper le Figaro says. (VIVENDI-BOUYGUES/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 415 words)

Murphy Oil nears $500 mln sale of UK refining assets

LONDON - Murphy Oil is ready to exit British refining next month with the sale of its Milford Haven plant and retail assets to private equity fund Greybull Capital for over $500 million, sources close to the talks tells Reuters. (UK-REFINERIES/ (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Ron Bousso and Simon Falush, 670 words)

Raiffeisen sticks to Russia as Q4 profit tops forecasts

VIENNA - Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) reaffirms its commitment to the lucrative Russian market and plays down problems in Ukraine that have cast a shadow over central and eastern Europe's number two lender. (RAIFFEISEN-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Michael Shields, 790 words)

SMA Solar posts biggest ever loss as margins evaporate

FRANKFURT - SMA Solar, Germany's largest solar company by sales, posts its biggest ever annual net loss as it takes a hit from plunging demand in its European core market as well as competition from lower-cost Asian rivals. (SMA SOLAR-RESULTS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Christoph Steitz, 355 words)

+ See also:

- POWER-GERMANY/DANSKE, moved, by Vera Eckert and Michael Kahn, 500 words

Russia's Sberbank's 2013 profit growth misses target

MOSCOW - Sberbank, Russia's biggest bank, posts a 4.1 percent rise in full-year earnings, falling short of its own target as it increased provisions for loan-losses in a deteriorating economy. (RUSSIA-SBERBANK/RESULTS (UPDATE 3), moved, 455 words)

Alstom shares sink on threat of big fine in U.S. bribery case

PARIS - Shares in Alstom fall on the prospect that the French engineering firm could face hefty penalties from the U.S. Justice Department in a bribery probe focused on Asia. (ALSTOM-CORRUPTION/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 400 words)

H&M misses profit forecast as fashion battle heats up

STOCKHOLM - Hennes & Mauritz, the world's No.2 fashion retailer, misses first-quarter profit forecasts as it invested to catch up with rivals online in an increasingly competitive budget clothing market. (H&M/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Mia Shanley and Helena Soderpalm, 600 words)

British cost agency to take broader view of drug value

LONDON - British healthcare cost agency NICE is to take a broader view of the value offered by new medicines under proposals that may make it more likely that it will say "yes" to novel drugs in future. (PHARMACEUTICALS-BRITAIN/, moved, by Ben Hirschler, 660 words)

+ See also:

- GSK-ALLI/, moved, 100 words

- BAXTER-RESTRUCTURING/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 200 words

- PHARMACEUTICALS-DATA/, moved, by Ben Hirschler, 480 words)

- NOVARTIS/LDK378, moved, 225 words

London Stock Exchange sees 91 percent leap in capital raised

LONDON - The London Stock Exchange says that money raised on its markets soared by 91 percent in the 11 months to the end of February and that there was a good pipeline ahead. (LSE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 280 words)

Strikes hit German airports as workers demand higher pay

FRANKFURT - Germany's main airports are hit by a strike as public sector workers raise pressure on the government in pay talks. (GERMANY-AIRPORT/STRIKE (UPDATE 1), moved, 425 words)

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