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TOP STORIES

Obama announces new U.S. sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

MANILA/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine - U.S. President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against some Russians to stop President Vladimir Putin from fomenting rebellion in eastern Ukraine, but said he was holding broader measures against Russia's economy "in reserve". (UKRAINE-CRISIS/ (WRAPUP 4, PICTURE, TV), expect by 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Matt Spetalnick and Thomas Grove, 1,035 words)

+ See also:

- RUSSIA-MARKETS/ROUBLE (UPDATE 2), moved, by Lidia Kelly, 395 words

Pfizer chasing AstraZeneca in potential $100 bln deal

LONDON - U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc is working on its next move in a potential $100 billion battle for Britain's AstraZeneca after having two bids rejected, as deal-making grips the healthcare industry. (ASTRAZENECA-PFIZER/ (UPDATE 5), moved, by Ben Hirschler, 1,015 words)

+ See also:

- MERCK&CO-SALE/, moved, by Anjuli Davies, Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim, 700 words)

- MEDA-MYLAN/ (UPDATE 2) expect by 1230 GMT/8.30 AM ET, by Sven Nordenstam, 500 words

- FURIEX-OFFER/, moved, 100 words

France says could block Alstom deal as president meets GE

PARIS - France will block any deal involving engineering group Alstom it considers unfit, Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg says ahead of a meeting between President Francois Hollande and General Electric's chief executive to discuss the French group's future. (ALSTOM-OFFER/ (UPDATE 3), moving shortly, by Andrew Callus and Nicholas Vinocur, 675 words)

Russia-West tensions weigh on stocks, buoy oil prices

LONDON - World stocks steady above 10-day lows, with investors holding back from making aggressive bets as tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine shows no sign of easing. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4), moved, by Sujata Rao, 655 words)

REUTERS SUMMIT

ECB policy, stress tests weighing on bank credit - BBVA

MADRID - Uncertainty over the European Central Bank's policy plans to deal with weak inflation and the Europe-wide banking health checks this year are hampering a revival of lending in the region, a top executive at Spain's BBVA says. (REGULATION-SUMMIT/BBVA (REUTERS SUMMIT), moved, by Sarah White and Jesús Aguado, 930 words)

BANKING & INVESTMENT

Deflation, emerging market fears set scene for EU bank tests

LONDON - Fears of euro zone deflation, emerging markets turmoil and a determination not to repeat past mistakes mean European regulators are likely to come up with the toughest set of tests for the region's banks that they have ever faced. (EUROPE-BANKING/TESTS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Laura Noonan, 1,295 words)

EU exit could wreck UK financial capital - City lobby group

LONDON - A British exit from the European Union could wreck London's position as the only financial centre to rival New York and isolate the country's economy, research ordered by a lobby group for banks and money managers shows. (BRITAIN-EUROPE/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Guy Faulconbridge, 525 words)

+ See also:

- ECB/INTEGRATION, moved, 285 words

Fund of hedge funds face fight for cash with consultants

LONDON - Funds that invest in a range of hedge funds are facing a battle to win new business, as the same consultants they court to win money from pension firms are grabbing a chunk of an industry that was already struggling to grow. (FUNDS-CONSULTANTS/, moved, by Joshua Franklin and Simon Jessop, 670 words)

ECONOMY

Fed, with taper on autopilot, free to tackle big questions

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK - Federal Reserve policymakers this week are set to continue paring their massive bond-buying stimulus, but below the smooth surface of a likely unanimous vote lies a deeply divided Fed struggling to lay the groundwork for more difficult decisions ahead. (USA-FED/ (PREVIEW), moved, by Ann Saphir and Jonathan Spicer, 690 words

ECB's Constancio watching more than April inflation data

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank's vice president says that April's inflation figures due later this week should not alone trigger a policy change because "it's not just one or two numbers that matter". (ECB/POLICYMAKERS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Eva Taylor, 550 words)

French PM appeals to Socialist lawmakers on savings plan

PARIS - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls seeks to appease rebel Socialist lawmakers, offering to exempt the country's poorest from a welfare spending freeze intended to address EU criticism of its budget. (FRANCE-ECONOMY/, moved, 475 words)

War-ravaged Syria may face worst wheat harvest in 40 years

AMMAN/ABU DHABI - War and drought have crippled Syria's wheat crop, with some experts now forecasting output of the staple food could fall to around a third of pre-war levels, and possibly even below 1 million tonnes for the first time in 40 years. (SYRIA-WHEAT/CROPS (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Maha El Dahan, 975 words)

COMPANIES

Comcast offers to shed clients to win Time Warner Cable deal

Comcast Corp offers to sell 1.4 million pay TV subscribers to Charter Communications Inc for $7.3 billion, as part of a wider transaction aimed at winning regulatory approval for its proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable. (CHARTER COMMUNI-COMCAST/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Liana B. Baker and Soham Chatterjee, 460 words)

Publicis, Omnicom try to resolve spat over CFO job - sources

PARIS/LONDON - The chief executives of advertising companies Publicis and Omnicom Group are working together to resolve a seven-month-old struggle over who will be chief financial officer of their combined group if the $35 billion merger is completed, three people close to the deal say. (PUBLICIS GROUPE-OMNICOM GROUP/DISPUTE, moved, by Leila Abboud and Tom Bergin, 1,055 words)

Bayer core profit rises on early planting season, new drugs

FRANKFURT - New drugs and an early start to planting season underpin German drugmaker Bayer's quarterly core earnings, which surpass estimates despite negative currency effects. (BAYER-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Marilyn Gerlach, 600 words)

Spain's bailed-out Bankia posts bad debt turnaround

MADRID - Spain's biggest bailed-out lender Bankia says bad debts fall in the first quarter of the year, while net earnings on loans grow 36 percent from a year ago, after a major restructuring. (SPAIN-BANKIA/RESULTS (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moving shortly, by Sarah White and Jesús Aguado, 500 words)

Boeing to ask Japan firms to build a fifth of 777X - sources

TOKYO - Boeing Co has lined up Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, to build one-fifth of its latest plane, the 777X, retaining Japan as its key Asian partner in commercial jetliners, two sources with knowledge of the U.S. company's production plan says. (JAPAN-777X/WORKSHARE (UPDATE 1), moved, by Tim Kelly, 500 words)

UK's BG to review assets after CEO quits, warns on output

LONDON - British energy company BG Group says it will review its assets after Chief Executive Chris Finlayson quit after just 16 months in the job. (BG GROUP/CEO (UPDATE 2), moved, by Karolin Schaps, 330 words)

End game nears on South Africa's strike-hit platinum belt

JOHANNESBURG - The end game to South Africa's big platinum strike is drawing near after the producers say they will take their latest wage offer directly to employees after marathon wage talks to end the 13-week strike collapsed on Thursday. (SAFRICA-STRIKES/, moved, by Ed Stoddard, 680 words)

From balloons to shrimp-filled shallows, future is wireless

SINGAPORE - The Internet may feel like it's everywhere, but large pockets of sky, swathes of land and most of the oceans are still beyond a signal's reach. Three decades after the first cellphone went on sale - the $4,000 Motorola DynaTAC 8000X "Brick" - half the world remains unconnected. (TECH-INTERNET/CONNECT (PICTURE), moved, by Jeremy Wagstaff, 1,750 words)