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Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:08am EDT

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TOP STORIES

U.S. economy stalls in Q1, inventories and trade weigh

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy barely grows in the first quarter as exports tumble and businesses accumulate stocks at the slowest pace in nearly a year, but activity already appears to be bouncing back. (USA-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP 2), moved, by Lucia Mutikani, 520 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT-ADP, moved, 100 words

- GLOBAL-ECONOMY/CONFIDENCE-NIELSEN, moved, by Susan Fenton, 620 words

Fed expected to take further step toward ending bond buying

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve is expected to cut its bond-buying programme a further $10 billion as signs mount that the U.S. economy is starting to pull away from its winter slowdown. (USA-FED/ (WRAPUP 1), moved, by Howard Schneider, 650 words)

Europe's top court rejects UK challenge on trading tax

BRUSSELS/LONDON - Britain's legal challenge to a financial transactions tax is rejected by Europe's highest court, dealing another blow to attempts to shield London as a financial centre from the influence of Brussels. (EU-BRITAIN/FTT (UPDATE 2), moved, by John O'Donnell and Huw Jones, 800 words)

Euro zone inflation makes swift ECB action less likely

BRUSSELS - Euro zone inflation rises in April, reducing chances the European Central Bank will act soon to ward off deflation, but the pace of price rises is below forecast and still within the ECB's "danger zone" of under 1 percent. (EUROZONE-INFLATION/ (UPDATE 2, GRAPHIC), moved, by Robin Emmott and Anna Nicolaou, 670 words)

BNP warns U.S. fine may "far exceed" $1.1 bln provision

PARIS - French bank BNP Paribas has warns it might be hit with a U.S. fine far in excess of the $1.1 billion that it set aside last year to cover litigation costs linked to potential breaches of U.S. sanctions on countries including Iran. (BNP PARIBAS-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3, TV), moved, by Lionel Laurent and Matthias Blamont, 975 words)

MARKETS

Euro recovers as inflation eases pressure on ECB

LONDON - The euro recovers and the currency bloc's government bonds retreat after euro zone inflation stays just about strong enough to suggest the European Central Bank will take no action when it meets next week. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moved, by Marc Jones, 800 words)

RUSSIA & UKRAINE

IMF cuts Russia 2014 growth outlook

MOSCOW - The International Monetary Fund slashes its already modest 2014 growth forecast for Russia, warning that Ukraine-related sanctions are scaring off investors and pushing the economy towards recession. (RUSSIA-ECONOMY/IMF (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Lidia Kelly and Nigel Stephenson, 640 words)

Asian bond markets lure Russians, may prove hard sell

LONDON/HONG KONG - Russian companies shut out of Western capital markets are scouting the possibility of raising cash via Chinese "dim sum" bonds or in Singapore dollars, but a funding switch to Asia is likely to prove tough. (RUSSIA-ASIA/BONDS (INSIGHT), moved, by Sujata Rao and Michelle Chen, 750 words)

Norway's $860 bln oil fund holds back on Russian investment

OSLO - Norway's $860 billion sovereign wealth fund will hold off from making new investments in Russia because of the conflict in Ukraine, its chief executive says. (NORWAY-OILFUND/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Gwladys Fouche, 545 words)

INVESTMENT & REUTERS SUMMIT

Investors lift equity holdings; cut bonds, emerging stocks

LONDON - The world's top investors added exposure to equities this month and cut bonds and cash as they grew increasingly confident that geopolitical tensions are unlikely to derail the global economic recovery, Reuters polls shows. (FUNDS-POLL/GLOBAL (WRAPUP 1), moved, by Natsuko Waki, 530 words)

+ See also:

- FUNDS-POLL/EUROPE (POLL), moved, by Natsuko Waki, 300 words

- FUNDS-POLL/BRITAIN (POLL), moved, 300 words

- FUNDS-POLL/JAPAN, moved, by Hideyuki Sano, 500 words

- CHINA-FUNDS/ (POLL), moved, by David Lin, 400 words

EU eyes range tools to fix banks, no "blood on the floor"

LONDON - A health check of European banks should not be judged by how much "blood on the floor" is spilled to repair weaklings since banks could also be told to boost their capital positions by curbing payouts like dividends and bonuses, a top EU regulator says. (EU-BANKS/STRESSTEST (REUTERS SUMMIT), moving shortly, 750 words)

ECONOMY

Spain's recovery gains pace but remains hard sell at home

MADRID - The Spanish government raises its 2014 economic growth forecast following a robust start to the year, but is still struggling to persuade voters that a solid recovery is underway as job creation and consumer spending remain anaemic. (SPAIN-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Paul Day and Andrés González, 940 words)

Almost half of big UK employers use insecure contracts - ONS

LONDON - Almost half of large British employers offer jobs with no guaranteed minimum hours or pay, official data shows, reinforcing concerns that the labour market is less healthy than headline figures suggest. (BRITAIN-EMPLOYMENT/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by David Milliken, 690 words)

Turkish central bank hints at rate cut, no deep easing cycle

ISTANBUL - Turkey's central bank governor says he sees room for a gradual lowering in interest rates but rules out a deep cycle of easing, saying policy will remain tight until there is a clear improvement in the inflation outlook. (TURKEY-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Behiye Taner, 800 words)

France caught between nuclear cliff and investment wall

PARIS - France must decide in the next few years whether it wants to continue its nuclear-driven energy policy at a cost of up to 300 billion euros ($415 billion) or if it wants to embark on an equally costly route towards using other fuels. (FRANCE-NUCLEAR/ (ANALYSIS), moved, by Michel Rose, 1,060 words)

COMPANIES

Sanofi explores $7 bln-plus sale of drug portfolio-sources

LONDON/NEW YORK - Sanofi is looking to sell a portfolio of older drugs that could fetch $7-8 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, yet another example of drugmakers trying to shed non-core assets and focus on high-growth areas. (SANOFI-SALE/ (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Sophie Sassard, Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim, 500 words)

+ See also:

- ASTRAZENECA-PFIZER/LAWMAKERS, moved, by Kylie MacLellan and Ben Hirschler, 395 words

- ASTRAZENECA-PFIZER/CEO, moved, by Ben Hirschler, 400 words

Alstom studies GE offer, leaves door ajar for Siemens

PARIS - Cash-strapped French engineering group Alstom says it will study a $16.9 billion offer from General Electric for its energy arm but left the door open for a rival bid from Germany's Siemens. (ALSTOM-OFFER/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by James Regan and Nicholas Vinocur, 800 words)

GlaxoSmithKline drug sales off to weak start in Q1

LONDON - GlaxoSmithKline posts a 10 percent fall in quarterly sales, highlighting some of the industry pressures behind last week's decision to trade more than $20 billion of assets with Swiss rival Novartis. (GSK-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 330 words)

Shell stock jumps as cash flow improves, dividend rises

LONDON - Royal Dutch Shell reports a jump in first-quarter cash flows and a boost in dividends, triggering a jump in the share price as the market cheer the new chief executive's turnaround plan. (SHELL-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), moving shortly, by Dmitry Zhdannikov, 660 words)

+ See also:

- HERITAGEOIL/MERGERS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Sarah Young, 590 words

Nuclear power producer Exelon to buy Pepco for $6.83 bln

Exelon Corp, the largest U.S. nuclear power producer, says it will buy Pepco Holdings Inc for $6.83 billion to create the biggest electric and gas utility in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. (PEPCO HOLDINGS-OFFER/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 455 words)

"Lego Movie", "Game of Thrones" boost Time Warner results

Time Warner Inc reports better-than-expected quarterly results, helped by the box office success of its "The Lego Movie" and the popularity of its "Game of Thrones" TV series. (TIME WARNER-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 260 words)

Daimler profits double as Mercedes recovery continues

FRANKFURT - Daimler's first-quarter operating profit more than doubles as surging sales of new cars and improving margins in its Mercedes-Benz luxury autos division extended its recent recovery. (DAIMLER-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Edward Taylor, 500 words)

+ See also:

- NORSKHYDRO-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 280 words

Spain's BBVA revenues weaken as Latam currencies weigh

MADRID - Spain's second-biggest bank, BBVA, posts lower-than-expected revenues in the first quarter and says depreciating Latin American currencies had hurt earnings, though its key Mexican business reported a rise in profits. (SPAIN-BBVA/RESULTS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Sarah White and Jesús Aguado, 450 words)

Co-operative Bank downfall blamed on Britannia takeover

LONDON - The root of the problems which led to the near collapse of Britain's Co-operative Bank lay in its 2009 takeover of the Britannia Building Society and poor management controls, an independent review commissioned by the bank concludes. (CO OPERATIVE GRP-BANKING/REVIEW (UPDATE 2), moved, by Matt Scuffham, 400 words)