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TOP STORIES

Omnicom, Publicis call off proposed $35 billion merger

LONDON/NEW YORK - The proposed $35 billion merger between U.S.-based Omnicom Group and French rival Publicis Groupe has been called off as the challenges of forming the world's largest advertising agency prove too immense for the partners. (OMNICOM GROUP-PUBLICIS GROUPE/ (UPDATE 4), expect by 0930 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Anjuli Davies, Soyoung Kim and Leila Abboud, 700 words)

UK factory output growth enjoys best quarter since 1999

LONDON - British factory output grows at its fastest pace for a calendar quarter in nearly 15 years during the first three months of 2014, official data shows, in news likely to support hopes that the economy is rebalancing. (BRITAIN ECONOMY/, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-ECONOMY/GROWTH, moved, 370 words

ECB stimulus talk knocks euro, peripheral yields

LONDON - Lower-rated euro zone bond yields fall to fresh record lows and the common currency slides further as investors position from more monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4), expect by 0900 GMT/5 AM ET, by Francesco Canepa, 830 words)

Cameron's EU strategy "wishful thinking" - Deputy PM Clegg

LONDON - Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to renegotiate Britain's ties with the European Union are wishful thinking and likely to yield only minor concessions that will not unite his governing Conservative party, his coalition partner will warn. (BRITAIN POLITICS/CLEGG (UPDATE 2), expect by 1100 GMT/7 AM ET, by Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn, 600 words)

INVESTMENT & MARKETS

Air getting thin for race to grab yield

LONDON - Investors may be stretching too far for higher return and ignoring risks as a great "Yield Grab-athon" lures many asset managers into potentially severe losses when interest rates eventually drift higher. (INVESTMENT-YIELD/ (ANALYSIS), expect 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Natsuko Waki, 800 words)

Lower-rated euro zone debt yields at new lows on ECB outlook

LONDON - Lower-rated euro zone bond yields fall to new lows after the European Central Bank bolsters expectations it is poised to deliver fresh monetary stimulus next month. (MARKETS-BONDS-EURO/, moved, by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, 550 words)

China tech boom triggers gold rush for private bankers

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's IPO is set to create a long list of multi-millionaires just from its partners in the company - music to the ears of private bankers seeking to cash in on the wealth created by China's tech sector boom. (CHINA-TECH/WEALTH, moved, by Saeed Azhar and Nishant Kumar, 950 words)

ECONOMY

Juncker says France shouldn't blame its woes on euro

BERLIN - France's economic woes are the result of poor policy choices at home and Paris should stop blaming its problems on the strength of the euro, Jean-Claude Juncker, the centre-right candidate for European Commission president, tells Reuters. (FRANCE/EURO-JUNCKER (INTERVIEW), moved, by Noah Barkin, 540 words)

Chinese developers pull back as downturn hits economy

SHANGHAI - China's efforts to cool its property sector look to have been more effective than intended, as a sharp drop in construction activity and falling prices threaten what has been one of few firing engines of the world's second-largest economy. (CHINA-PROPERTY/ (PICTURE), moved, by Clare Jim, 900 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/CPI (UPDATE 1, GRAPHIC), moved, 450 words

German exports post big fall in March, trade drags on Q1

BERLIN - German exports post their biggest fall in nearly a year in March and imports also dip as the crisis in Ukraine and a slowdown in China weighs, narrowing the trade surplus and confirming trade is a drag on growth at the start of 2014. (GERMANY-TRADE/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 450 words)

Lithuania gains ECB scrutiny of top lenders as euro nears

LONDON - Lithuania's top lenders have effectively been admitted to the euro zone's landmark banking tests as the country prepares to join the currency union next year. (EURO ZONE/BANK-TESTS, moved, by Laura Noonan, 525 words)

S&P upgrades Portugal outlook to stable, warns of risks

LISBON - Standard & Poor's upgrades its outlook on Portugal to stable from negative, citing a stronger-than expected economic and fiscal progress, but keeps its credit rating at BB, two notches into the junk territory, for the debt-ridden country. (PORTUGAL-RATINGS/S&P (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 500 words)

Italy's industrial output posts surprise drop for 2nd month

ROME - Italian industrial output was much weaker than expected in March, falling 0.5 percent after a 0.4 percent drop the month before, casting doubt over the strength of the country's recovery prospects, data shows. (ITALY-ECONOMY/OUTPUT, moved, 300 words)

Australia seeks to fireproof budget against a China downturn

SYDNEY - Australia, having ridden a boom in Chinese demand for raw materials, is seeking to fireproof itself from any shocks from its top trading partner, promising a tough federal budget with aim to rein in rising debt and deficits. (AUSTRALIA-BUDGET/CHINA, moved, by Lincoln Feast, 900 words)

Iran's bad debt push reveals problem, and silver lining

DUBAI - A move by Iran to recover bad debts on behalf of banks has shed light on possible corrupt lending under the previous president and also suggests a fresh spirit of cooperation among its various centres of power. (IRAN-ECONOMY/DEBTS, moved, by Michelle Moghtader, 1,160 words)

Thai auto sector slams on brakes as crisis rumbles on

BANGKOK - The lay-offs in Thailand's auto sector are the latest sign that the auto industry, accounting for about 11 percent of Thai economic output, is being hit hard by the prolonged power-struggle between the Bangkok-based royalist establishment and the mainly rural supporters of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. (THAILAND-AUTOS/, moved, by Khettiya Jittapong and Pisit Changplayngam, 800 words)

COMPANIES

Credit Suisse says doing everything to settle U.S. tax probe

ZURICH - Credit Suisse is doing everything in its power to reach a settlement with U.S. authorities who are probing whether and how its private bankers helped wealthy Americans dodge their taxes, executives will tell the bank's shareholders. (CREDIT SUISSE-INVESTIGATION/, moved, 200 words)

ArcelorMittal lowers forecast for global steel demand

BRUSSELS - ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, trims its forecast for global steel use due to a more pronounced slowdown in China and a decline in Russia, though it retains optimism about its core European and U.S. markets. (ARCELORMITTAL-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), expect by 1000 GMT/6 AM ET, by Philip Blenkinsop, 600 words)

Spain's Telefonica profit hit by currencies, asset sales

MADRID - Spain's Telefonica says its first-quarter net profit falls 23.2 percent to 692 million euros ($959 million) as it is hit by weaker currencies in Latin America and the sale of its Czech business last year. (TELEFONICA-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 240 words)

Alcatel-Lucent cuts Q1 loss, pursues turnaround

PARIS - Telecoms network equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent reduces its first-quarter net loss to 73 million euros ($101 million) from 353 million euros a year ago, the company reports, as it cuts costs and trims unprofitable contracts. (ALCATEL-LUCENT/RESULTS (UPDATE 2), moved, by Leila Abboud and Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier, 440 words)

IAG confident on targets as Iberia recovers

LONDON - British Airways-owner International Airlines Group says it is confident of meeting its 2015 profit target, buoyed by a turnaround at its Iberia unit which helps its seasonal first-quarter loss narrow. (IAG/RESULTS (UPDATE 2), expect by 0900 GMT/5 AM ET, by Sarah Young, 400 words)

Co-op Group's grip on UK bank loosens in latest fundraising

LONDON - Britain's Co-operative Group cedes more control of the Co-op Bank following the bank's latest fundraising, with its stake expected to fall to 20 percent, two sources familiar with the matter tell Reuters. (COOP-BANKING/FUNDRAISING (UPDATE 2), expect by 0930 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Matt Scuffham, 600 words)

Tullett shares slide as four-month revenue falls 12 pct

LONDON - Shares in British interdealer broker Tullett Prebon are among the biggest fallers on the FTSE 250 after the company says it will cut costs and trim headcount following a 12 percent drop in revenue in the first four months of the year amid "challenging" market conditions. (TULLETT PRBN/RESULTS (UPDATE 2), expect by 0930 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Clare Hutchison, 600 words)

+ See also:

- MAN GROUP/RESULTS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Simon Jessop, 295 words