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TOP STORIES

Euro zone business stays strong, China mending

LONDON/BEIJING - Private business activity in the euro zone grows at just under its fastest pace in three years this month, while contraction in China's vast manufacturing sector slows to its weakest pace this year, surveys show. (GLOBAL-ECONOMY/ (WRAPUP 2), moved, by Jonathan Cable and Koh Gui Qing, 700 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/FLASH-PMI, moved, by Koh Gui Qing, 800 words

- PMI FLASH/GERMANY, moved, 395 words

- PMI-FLASH/FRANCE (UPDATE 1), moved, 380 words

Stronger household spending and investment drive UK growth

LONDON - Britain's households spend more and companies increase investment at the fastest pace in a year, extending the country's strong economic growth into the first three months of 2014, official data shows. (BRITAIN-ECONOMY/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by David Milliken and William Schomberg, 685 words)

Putin signals he does not want Russia isolated

ST PETERSBURG, Russia - President Vladimir Putin signals in message to Western investors he does not want Russia to be isolated over the crisis in Ukraine. (RUSSIA-FORUM/ (PICTURE, TV), expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Darya Korsunskaya and Dmitry Zhdannikov, 600 words)

+ See also:

- RUSSIA-PROJECTS/ (PICTURE), moved, by Megan Davies, 1,070 words

Bank of England's Carney warns insurance chiefs of scrutiny

LONDON - The Bank of England's governor has warned insurers they are under scrutiny by supervisors and he will hold top executives accountable in the same way that he has cracked down on Britain's bankers. (BOE-CARNEY/INSURERS (UPDATE 1), moved, 545 words)

SPECIAL REPORT & EXCLUSIVE

How Putin's associates botched state hospital project

PERM, Russia - A Reuters investigation shows allies of President Vladimir Putin won contracts to build new medical centres across Russia. They failed, and the project overran by $700 million. (RUSSIA-CAPITALISM/HOSPITALS (SPECIAL REPORT, PICTURE, GRAPHICS), moved, by Jason Bush, Elizabeth Piper, Stephen Grey and Maria Tsvetkova, 2,300 words)

+ See also:

- RUSSIA-CAPITALISM/CONNECTIONS, 520 words

- RUSSIA-CAPITALISM/HEALTH (SPECIAL REPORT), moved, 3,200 words

Implats CEO says S.Africa platinum strike could last much longer

LONDON - Feedback from day one of court-mediated talks with the world's largest platinum producers and South Africa's main mining union is lukewarm, the chief executive of Impala Platinum says, adding the four-month strike could last much longer. (PLATINUMWEEK/IMPALA PLATINUM (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Silvia Antonioli, 200 words)

+ See also:

- SAFRICA-STRIKE/INTIMIDATION (PICTURE), moved, By Ed Stoddard and Nomatter Ndebele, 895 words

MARKETS & INVESTMENT

US markets looking for Fed hints in data slew

LONDON - U.S. stocks are set to consolidate recent gains ahead of a slew of data that will be closely watched for further hints of the Federal Reserve's need to maintain some monetary support for the world's largest economy. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 6), moved, by John Geddie, 680 words)

Russia-China gas deal creates benchmark for global market

LONDON - The keenly priced gas deal signed this week between Russia and China will create a new price benchmark for global markets that puts cost pressure on other producers because consumers have a growing number of supply sources to choose from. (GAS-RUSSIA/CHINA/PIPELINE (ANALYSIS), moved, by Henning Gloystein, 1,000 words)

+ See also:

- GAS-RUSSIA/CHINA/PIPELINE (FACTBOX), moved, 250 words

Corporate governance under heavier scrutiny in AGM season

LONDON - A flexing of collective investor muscle, which saw shareholders revolt over pay at British bank Barclays, is set to disrupt more annual general meetings of UK companies as shareholders tackle management on everything from remuneration to board diversity. (SHAREHOLDERS/AGM, expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Jemima Kelly and Simon Jessop, 950 words)

As tech millionaires multiply, advisers struggle to connect

NEW YORK - When the nine-person startup he co-founded was bought by Facebook for a reported $15 million in January, Cemre Gungor, 27, was inundated with phone calls and emails from wealth advisers. Yet he spurned them all, opting instead to open an account with Betterment, an online financial adviser launched in 2010 that automatically invests in a portfolio of exchange traded funds based mainly on a client's age. (TECH MILLIONAIRES/ADVISERS (INSIGHT), moved, by David Randall, 1,340 words)

ECONOMY

U.S. jobless claims rise; still close to pre-recession level

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week but stays close to a seven-year low and points to ongoing healing in the labour market. (USA-ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT, moved, 300 words)

BANKS, EXCHANGES SET TO JOSTLE OVER EU SECURITIES REFORM

LONDON - European Union regulators publish 800 pages of draft rules for a sweeping reform of the bloc's securities markets, sparking a race among banks and exchanges to try to change proposals that might damage their profitability. (EU-MARKETS/MIFID, moved, by Huw Jones, 600 words)

Turkish central bank cuts interest rate in surprise move

ISTANBUL - Turkey's central bank lowers its main interest rate for the first time in a year despite stubbornly high inflation, in a move that comes after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called for a cut. (TURKEY-CENBANK/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 510 words)

Euro zone crisis propels German migration to 20-year high

BERLIN - German net migration rises to a 20-year high in 2013, fuelled largely by immigrants from euro zone debt-crisis states Italy and Spain as well as a continued influx of Poles, data from the Statistics Office shows. (GERMANY-IMMIGRATION/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 385 words)

Hungarian central bank to tighten rules on bank lending

BUDAPEST - Hungary's central bank proposes regulatory action to encourage commercial banks to clean bad corporate loans from their books, saying this should improve their ability to lend and reduce risks to their stability. (HUNGARY-CENTRALBANK/BANKS (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs, 540 words)

COMPANIES

Unilever sells Ragu, Bertolli brands to Mizkan for $2.15 bln

LONDON - Unilever has agreed to sell its Ragu and Bertolli pasta sauce brands to Japanese condiments maker Mizkan Group for $2.15 billion in cash, bringing it closer to wrapping up the restructuring of its North American food business. (UNILEVER/PASTA (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Martinne Geller and Paul Sandle, 500 words)

Deutsche Bank defends capital increase at annual meeting

FRANKFURT - Deutsche Bank AG defends plans to raise 8 billion euros ($11 billion) in equity, as its top executives face investors at the lender's annual shareholders' meeting less than a week after announcing the surprise plan. (DEUTSCHE-BANK-AGM/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Thomas Atkins and Arno Schuetze, 600 words)

Marathon Petroleum to buy Hess's retail, transport business

Refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp says it will buy oil and natural gas producer Hess Corp's retail business for about $2.87 billion. (MARATHON PETE-HESS/, moved, 100 words)

Best Buy's U.S. same-store sales fall 1.3 pct

Best Buy Co Inc reports a bigger-than-expected 1.3 percent fall in quarterly same-store sales in the United States, hurt by lower sales of mobile phones and higher competition from online retailers. (BESTBUY-RESULTS/, moved, 150 words)

Belgium, EU near end to talks on Dexia, may avert bailout

DUBLIN/BRUSSELS - Belgian officials could soon conclude talks with EU and euro zone financial regulators that might see France and Belgium avoid having to pour more public money into crippled bank Dexia if it fails an EU stress test on its balance sheet. (EU-BANKING/STRESSTEST-DEXIA, moved, by Laura Noonan and Philip Blenkinsop, 550 words)

Raiffeisen beats Q1 profit estimates, to repay aid soon

VIENNA - Raiffeisen Bank International reports first-quarter profit that beat market expectations, saying its Russian business is "relatively normal" and it could soon pay back nearly 2 billion euros ($2.73 billion) in state aid. (RAIFFEISEN-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Michael Shields, 695 words)

SABMiller sets new savings goal as trading stays tough

LONDON - Global brewer SABMiller announces a new cost-savings programme to help cushion it against foreign exchange pressure and difficult trading in a range of markets, sending its shares up 4 percent. (SABMILLER-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Martinne Geller, 400 words)

China anti-graft watchdog visits Roche amid pharma crackdown

SHANGHAI/ZURICH - Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG says it has been visited by a unit of China's anti-trust regulator, apart of a widening crackdown on corruption and high prices in the country's pharmaceutical sector. (ROCHE HLDG-CHINA/ (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moved, by Adam Jourdan and Caroline Copley, 530 words)

Adidas sees boost to sales from World Cup

MUNICH - German sportswear company Adidas has given a more precise sales growth target for 2014, amounting to a rise of up to 8 percent, as it gets a lift from the soccer World Cup that starts in Brazil next month. (ADIDAS-SOCCER/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Jörn Poltz, 390 words)

British property website Zoopla joins rush to stock market

LONDON - Britain's second-largest property website Zoopla plans to list its shares on the London stock market next month to tap into rising confidence in the country's housing sector, potentially valuing the group at about 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion). (DAILY MAIL TRUST-ZOOPLA/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 650 words)

Sony gets real on restructuring, pockets of denial persist

TOKYO - Sony Corp may finally be serious about restructuring, setting aside up to $1 billion this fiscal year to cut staff, but the hard-nosed figures in its latest results still include noticeably rosy forecasts. (SONY-RESTRUCTURING/ (PICTURE), moved, by Reiji Murai and Sophie Knight, 1,000 words)