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Thu May 1, 2014 8:43am EDT

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TOP STORIES

UK data shows recovery kicking up a gear

LONDON - British manufacturing surges and house prices rise at the fastest pace since the start of the financial crisis, underscoring the challenge for the Bank of England to manage Britain's economic recovery. (BRITAIN-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 1), expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Andy Bruce and William Schomberg, 750 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/PMI (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moved, by Kevin Yao, 720 words)

European stocks set to surf on M&A wave

LONDON - European shares, stuck in neutral for nearly two months, are likely to get a shot in the arm from corporate deal-making, which has posted the best start to a year since 2008 and so far is outweighing sluggish earnings expectations. (EUROPESTOCKS-M&A/, moved, by Vikram Subhedar and Francesco Canepa, 650 words)

Sterling jumps to near 5-year high, euro bulls flash horns

LONDON - Surging manufacturing growth in Britain drives sterling to a near five-year high as markets suffer only a brief wobble after data on China's vast manufacturing sector just missed forecasts. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moving shortly, by Marc Jones, 880 words)

REUTERS SUMMIT

Europe eyes lessons from U.S. on bank health checks

LONDON - Europe's banking regulator edges closer to how the United States tests the ability of its banks to withstand shocks, although it still has some way to go to worry big banks about how much they pay staff or investors. (REGULATIONS-SUMMIT/STRESSTESTS, expect by 1500 GMT/11 AM ET, by Steve Slater, 600 words)

INSIGHT

Rivals poach Publicis, Omnicom clients as merger faces snags

LONDON/NEW YORK/PARIS - Publicis and Omnicom have lost more than $1.5 billion of client work in recent weeks and face a fight to retain billions more, including a huge Samsung contract, just as the two advertising firms struggle to keep their merger on track. (PUBLICIS GROUPE-OMNICOM GROUP/CLIENTS (INSIGHT), moved, by Kate Holton, Jennifer Saba and Leila Abboud, 1,300 words)

ECONOMY

U.S. jobless claims rise unexpectedly in latest week

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the underlying trend continues to point to improving labour market conditions. (USA-ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/SPENDING, moved, 300 words)

Fed's Yellen says bank loan growth good sign for economy

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says small U.S. banks had started lending to customers at a higher pace after several years of tightening the reins, an encouraging sign for economic growth. (FED-YELLEN/, moved, by Howard Schneider and Douwe Miedema, 310 words)

Russians mark May Day against backdrop of Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW - Thousands of Russian trade unionists march in the first May Day holiday parade in Moscow's Red Square since the collapse of the Soviet Union - a diversion from tensions over Ukraine and a weakening economy. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/RUSSIA-MAYDAY, PICTURES, TV), moved, by Nigel Stephenson, 650 words)

Reuters Bank of England policy poll

LONDON - Reuters has polled around 60 economists on the outlook for Bank of England policy ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting on May 8. (BOE-RATES/POLL, expect by 1320 GMT/9.20 AM ET, by Jonathan Cable, 600 words)

COMPANIES

R&D site marks frontline in $100 bln Astra, Pfizer battle

CAMBRIDGE, England - In Pfizer's $100 billion battle to win British drugmaker AstraZeneca, business and politics meet in a grassy field on the edge of the historic university city of Cambridge. (ASTRAZENECA-PFIZER/R&D, expect by 1500 GMT/11 AM ET, by Ben Hirschler and Mark Potter, 800 words)

+ See also:

- USA TAX/MERGERS (DEALTALK), moved, by Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim, 800 words

Viacom expands in Britain, buying Channel 5

U.S. media company Viacom Inc says it will buy British free-to-air TV broadcaster Channel 5 from media baron Richard Desmond for 450 million pounds ($760 million) to expand in the United Kingdom. (BRITAIN-CHANNEL 5/SALE (UPDATE 2), moved, 280 words)

Exxon Mobil quarterly profit slips 4 percent

Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, says its quarterly profit drops 4 percent due in part to weaker refining margins. (EXXON MOBIL-RESULTS/, moved, 100 words)

+ See also:

- CONOCOPHILLIPS-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 150 words

Lloyds strengthens dividend case with higher profit

LONDON - Lloyds Banking Group's pre-tax profit jumps 22 percent in the first quarter as costs fall and margins improve, strengthening the bank's plan to pay its first dividend since it was rescued during the financial crisis. (LLOYDS BANKING-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Matt Scuffham and Steve Slater, 600 words)

Sony slashes profit forecast again, raising pressure on CEO

TOKYO - Sony Corp slashes its earnings guidance for the third time in a year to barely 10 percent of its initial outlook as further losses from its PC exit cast a pall over its struggling electronics division. (SONY-GUIDANCE/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Sophie Knight, 740 words)

MasterCard quarterly profit rises 14 pct

MasterCard Inc, the world's second-largest debit and credit card company, posted a 14 percent rise in quarterly profit as more customers used cards to shop. (MASTERCARD-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 240 words)

UK regulator bans ex senior UBS trader over Adoboli losses

LONDON - Britain's financial regulator has banned a former senior UBS trader for failing to blow the whistle on colleague Kweku Adoboli, the "rogue trader" jailed in 2012 for running up $2.3 billion in unauthorised trading losses. (BRITAIN-TRADER/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Kirstin Ridley and Clare Hutchison, 345 words)

BG beats Q1 estimates after losing CEO

LONDON - British oil and gas company BG Group reports a lower-than-expected drop in first-quarter profit, just days after its chief executive resigned. (BG GROUP/RESULTS (UPDATE 3), moved, by Karolin Schaps, 520 words)

BSkyB defies competition with strong TV customer growth

LONDON - British pay-TV operator BSkyB defies increasing competition to add 74,000 net new TV customers in its third quarter, more than twice the growth recorded last year and well ahead of forecasts. (BSKYB/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Kate Holton, 450 words)

Italy's Fratelli Rossetti keeps shoemaker in the family

PARABIAGO, Italy - The three brothers who own Fratelli Rossetti will consider selling part of the Italian luxury shoemaker to fund future expansion, while keeping the business founded by their father firmly under family control. (ITALY-FRATELLI ROSSETTI/OWNERS (INTERVIEW, PICTURE), moved, by Isla Binnie and Sabina Suzzi, 610 words)