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TOP STORIES

ECB set to hold course in face of deflation fears

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank looks set to keep interest rates steady and offer no new aid to the euro zone's fragile recovery despite a fall in inflation to its lowest in more than four years. (ECB-RATES/, moved, by David Milliken, 850 words)

+ See also:

- IMF-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Anna Yukhananov, 95 words

Price cutting in euro zone leads to buoyant first quarter

LONDON - Euro zone businesses starts 2014 on a high, enjoying their best quarter in three years, but that buoyant growth comes at a cost as they are forced to slash prices to drum up trade, stoking fears of deflation in the region. (EUROPE-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP), expect by 1000 GMT/6.00 AM ET, by Jonathan Cable, 700 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP), moved, by Adam Rose and Xiaoyi Shao, 580 words

France wants to review deficit deadlines with EU - Sapin

PARIS - France's new finance minister loses no time announcing the newly reshuffled government will review its deficit-reduction deadlines with the European Union. (ECONOMY-FRANCE/DEFICIT/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1000 GMT/6 AM ET, by Mark John, 500 words)

JP Morgan to process payment for Russia, easing tension

MOSCOW - JP Morgan says it is processing a payment from Russia's embassy in Kazakhstan to Russian insurance agency Sogaz, moving to ease tensions after Moscow accused the U.S. bank of "illegally" blocking the transaction. (RUSSIA-JPMORGAN CHASE/SANCTIONS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Megan Davies, 615 words)

Markets

Stocks rally pauses for breath ahead of ECB

LONDON - The rise in European stocks this week peters out after figures show that economic activity slows a bit last month and with investors reluctant to add fuel to the rally ahead of the European Central Bank's policy decision later in the day. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4), moving shortly, by Jamie McGeever, 750 words)

INSIGHT

Alibaba's IPO architect lays out plan for e-commerce empire

HONG KONG/BEIJING - Alibaba, the world's biggest e-commerce company, changes how China shops. Now the man driving its blockbuster U.S. stock sale wants to transform the rest of the country's services industry, adding new users to the giant's 300 million customers. (ALIBABA-TSAI/ (INSIGHT), moved, by Paul Carsten and Matthew Miller, 1,550 words)

ECONOMY

UK lenders expect to expand supply of credit

LONDON - British lenders expect the availability of mortgages and business loans to pick up significantly in the second quarter of this year, a Bank of England survey shows. (BRITAIN-BOE/CREDIT, moved, 425 words)

Iran, Russia working to seal oil-for-goods deal - sources

LONDON/ANKARA - Iran and Russia have made progress toward an oil-for-goods deal that sources say could be worth up to $20 billion and enable Tehran to boost vital energy exports in defiance of Western sanctions, people familiar with the negotiations tell Reuters. (IRAN-RUSSIA/OIL (UPDATE 1), moved, by Jonathan Saul and Parisa Hafezi, 725 words)

BOJ seen holding rates as tankan signals softer outlook

TOKYO - The Bank of Japan is expected to stand pat on monetary policy and maintain an upbeat view of the economy next week, unfazed by corporate-sector concerns a sales tax hike may dent growth and delay a sustainable exit from deflation. (JAPAN-ECONOMY/BOJ (PREVIEW), moved, by Leika Kihara, 700 words)

Greece sees "trial and error" bond return

ATHENS - Greece's first foray into bond markets after a four-year exclusion will be on a "trial and error" basis but the nation expects to fund itself unaided in 2016, its finance minister tells Reuters. (GREECE-ECONOMY/, moved, by Lefteris Papadimas and Deepa Babington, 550 words)

World food prices jump again in March - U.N.'s FAO

ROME - Global food prices rise to the highest level in almost a year in March, led by unfavourable weather conditions affecting crops and geopolitical tensions in the Black Sea region, the United Nations food agency says. (FOOD-FAO/, moved, 125 words)

Near-bankrupt Chinese firm offers lesson in lending risks

FENGHUA, China - To understand why many of China's small property developers are struggling, look no further than Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate. Last month, Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science and Technology (Chaori), defaulted when it missed an interest payment on a bond, and this week a newspaper reported a small construction materials company had also defaulted on an interest payment. (CHINA-REALESTATE/ (ANALYSIS, TV, PICTURE), moved, by Pete Sweeney, 1,195 words)

New Zealand tops social progress index

LONDON - New Zealand comes first in a global index that ranks countries by social and environmental performance rather than economic output in a drive to make social progress a priority for politicians and businesses. (INDEX-GLOBAL/PROGRESS, moved, by Astrid Zweynert, 600 words)

A desperate moonlight economy in Zimbabwe's 'Sunshine City'

HARARE - On Harare's hardscrabble streets, college graduates compete with peasants scratching out a living selling anything from mobile phone cards to herbal sex tonics, a measure of the decline of Zimbabwe's "Sunshine City" under President Robert Mugabe. (ZIMBABWE-LIFE/ (PICTURE), moved, by MacDonald Dzirutwe, 1,030 words)

COMPANIES

Kingfisher in exclusive talks to buy France's Mr Bricolage

LONDON - Kingfisher, Europe's No. 1 home improvement retailer, has launched a 275 million euros ($378.62 million) takeover bid for France's Mr Bricolage, moving to strengthen its position in its most profitable market. (KINGFISHER-MR BRICOLAGE/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 310 words)

Credit Suisse increases provision for U.S. tax deal

ZURICH - Credit Suisse has increased the funds it has set aside to settle a U.S. tax dispute and avoid prosecution for helping wealthy Americans to hide their money from the taxman. (CREDITSUISSE-LITIGATION/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 340 words)

Lufthansa pilots keep airline grounded for second day

FRANKFURT - Lufthansa pilots were on strike for a second day, grounding Germany's largest airline in a row over retirement conditions. (GERMANY-STRIKE/, moved, 235 words)

Tyre maker Nokian cuts profit outlook on Russian economy

HELSINKI - Finnish tyre manufacturer Nokian Renkaat cut its 2014 profit outlook, citing weakened demand in its core Russian market. (NOKIANRENKAAT/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 175 words)

Sanofi eyes more acquisitions, sees growth in Africa

PARIS - Sanofi is on the lookout for acquisitions to boost key business units, such as consumer and animal health products, and expects strong growth in the "strategic continent" of Africa, its chief executive tells Reuters. (SANOFI-CEO/ (INTERVIEW), moved, by Natalie Huet and Noƫlle Mennella, 745 words)

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