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TOP STORIES

U.S. data, ECB easing bets feed risk appetite

LONDON - Strong economic data in the United States shores up world stocks, with record highs for U.S. and German markets underpinning risk appetite and sending safe-haven gold to a 3-1/2 month low. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5) expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Marc Jones, 800 words)

Valeant raises bid for Allergan, values it at $49.44 bln

Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc raises the cash component of its offer for Botox-maker Allergan Inc, valuing the U.S. firm at $49.44 billion (ALLERGAN OFFER (UPDATE 1), moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- NESTLE-VALEANT/SKIN, UPDATE 3), expect by 1400 GMT/9 AM ET, by Martinne Geller and Alice Baghdjian, 700 words

Housing market snags weigh on French economy

PARIS - Strangled by regulation and high prices, weak French housing investment is proving a major drag on the euro zone's second-biggest economy as it struggles to stage a convincing recovery (FRANCE-ECONOMY-HOUSING/ (ANALYSIS, GRAPHICS), moved to desk, by Leigh Thomas, 1,000 words)

UK fraud office probes GSK after claims of foreign bribery

LONDON - Britain's fraud office has launched a formal criminal investigation into GlaxoSmithKline, posing a new challenge to the drugmaker, which already faces claims of bribery in China and four other countries. (GSK/SFO (UPDATE 3), moved, by Ben Hirschler, 600 words)

INSIGHT

Better late than never, Germany joins new Africa scramble

BERLIN - Germany, the world's second-biggest exporter, has woken up late to the potential of Africa's fast-growing economies and is scrambling to catch up - not just with an aggressive China and France but also smaller European rivals such as Spain and Italy. (GERMANY AFRICA/TRADE, moved, by Stephen Brown, 1,640 words)

Cotton the new aluminium? Warehouse queues rise, and tempers

NEW YORK - Cotton merchants are waiting months to take delivery of fibre from U.S. warehouses, tightening supplies and fuelling fears the niche market is in the grip of a storage game that plunged aluminium trading into crisis. (COTTON WAREHOUSING/ALUMINUM, moved, by Chris Prentice, 1,280 words)

ECONOMY

Money supply slowdown keeps up pressure on ECB to act

FRANKFURT - Lending to households and firms in the euro zone declined further in April and money supply growth slumped to its slowest rate since September 2010, reinforcing pressure on the European Central Bank to ease monetary policy in June.(EUROZONE/M3, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- ECB/MERSCH (UPDATE 1), moved, by Stanley White, 400 words

Reuters poll on European Central Bank monetary policy

BANGALORE - Reuters has surveyed around 50 economists and analysts on the outcome of the European Central Bank's June meeting and the outlook for the bank's refinancing and deposit rates over the next six quarters. (ECB-RATES/POLL, expect at 1320 GMT/9.20 AM ET, by Sumanta Dey, 600 words)

Reuters poll on Bank of England monetary policy

LONDON - Reuters has surveyed around 50 economists and analysts on the outcome of the Bank of England's June Monetary Policy Committee meeting and the outlook for bank rate over the next six quarters. (BOE-RATES/POLL, expect at 1320 GMT/9.20 AM ET, by Jonathan Cable, 600 words)

Nationwide CEO expects London housing market to cool

LONDON - Nationwide Chief Executive Graham Beale says the price of homes in London could fall over the summer months amid signs the booming housing market in Britain's capital may be cooling. (NATIONWIDE/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 0900 GMT/5 AM ET, by Matt Scuffham, 600 words)

COMPANIES

Spoilt investors push back on rash of richly valued IPOs

LONDON - Spoilt for choice in a European market for stock market flotations brimming with deals, investors are starting to push back on some over-rich valuations and creative pitches (INVESTORS/IPOS, expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Jemima Kelly, Freya Berry and Simon Jessop, 770 words)

Hutchison wins EU approval for $1 bln O2 Ireland deal

BRUSSELS - Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa gains European Union regulatory approval for its $1 billion bid for Telefonica's Irish business in a case that could set the tone for Telefonica's bigger German deal. (HUTCHISON WHAM-TELEFONICA/EU, expect shortly, by Foo Yun Chee, 445 words)

Nike and Adidas get personal in battle over soccer World Cup

BERLIN - U.S. sportswear group Nike is banking on its sponsorship of more of the world's best-known soccer stars than Adidas in its battle to overtake the German firm as the sport's top-selling brand at the World Cup this summer. (SOCCER-WORLD/BRANDS (UPDATE 1, GRAPHICS, PICTURES), moved, by Emma Thomasson, 900 words)

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