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TOP STORIES

Euro zone business picks up but prices fall

LONDON - Euro zone business expanded at the second-fastest pace in three years in July, but robust growth could not mask the deflationary pressure weighing on the region just two days ahead of a European Central Bank monetary policy meeting. (EUROPE-ECONOMY/WRAP, moved, by Jonathan Cable, 700 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/PMI-HSBC (UPDATE 2), moved, by Xiaoyi Shao and Koh Gui Qing, 830 words

Credit Agricole profit plunges on Espirito Santo hit

PARIS - France's Credit Agricole takes a 708 million euro ($950 million) hit from its stake in troubled Portuguese lender Banco Espirito Santo (BES), nearly wiping out its second-quarter net profit. (CAGRICOLE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Maya Nikolaeva and Matthias Blamont, 790 words)

+ See also:

- PORTUGAL-BES/, moved, 325 words

Telefonica bids $9 bln for Vivendi's Brazil broadband unit

PARIS/MADRID - Spain's Telefonica has made a 6.7 billion euro ($8.99 billion) bid to France's Vivendi for its Brazilian broadband unit GVT, seeking to strengthen its position in a market that accounts for one-fifth of revenue. (TELEFONICA/BRAZIL (UPDATE 3), moved, by Sarah Morris and James Regan, 845 words)

BMW beats profit forecast on record sales, sees some hurdles

FRANKFURT - New models and strong sales in China help BMW to beat second-quarter profit forecasts and keep it on track to remain the world's biggest luxury carmaker despite a challenge from its German rivals. (BMW-RESULTS/Q2 (UPDATE 2), moved, by Edward Taylor, 625 words)

MARKETS & INVESTMENT

Upbeat earnings cheer Europe shares; PMIs hit euro

LONDON - European shares eke out gains driven by upbeat earnings from a number of blue-chip companies, while the euro falls after a broadly disappointing set of services activity data. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moved, by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, 670 words)

Wall Street banks take heart from leveraged loan exams

NEW YORK - Wall Street banks have found a U.S. review of their junk-rated loans to have yielded similar results to last year, easing some concern among bankers about a crackdown on one of their most lucrative businesses. (LEVERAGEDLOANS-EXAMS/ (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Greg Roumeliotis, 770 words)

UK bans sale of bank CoCo bonds to mass retail market

LONDON - Britain's banks are banned from offering risky and complex hybrid debt known as contingent convertible bonds or CoCos to the mass market from October, the country's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says. (BRITAIN-REGULATOR/BANKS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Huw Jones, 390 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-BANKS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 250 words

ECONOMY

Obama to announce $14 bln in US company investment in Africa

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will announce that U.S. businesses have committed to investing $14 billion in construction, clean energy, banking, and information technology projects across Africa, a White House official says. (AFRICA-SUMMIT/, moved, by Jeff Mason, 395 words)

Russia may limit trans-Siberian flights for EU planes -paper

MOSCOW - Russia may restrict or ban European airlines from flying over Siberia on busy Asian routes, a newspaper reports, following Western sanctions that have grounded one Russian carrier and a billionaire's private jet. (UKRAINE CRISIS/RUSSIA-AIRLINES (UPDATE 2), moved, by Maria Kiselyova and Gleb Stolyarov, 400 words)

+ See also:

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/SWISS (UPDATE 1), moved, 330 words

Euro zone retail sales show strongest year rise in 7 years

BRUSSELS - Euro zone retail sales rose at the fastest rate in seven years in June - and twice as fast as expected - thanks to strong sales of both food and non-food products, data shows. (EUROZONE-ECONOMY/RETAIL (UPDATE 1), moved, 375 words)

BoE chief economist warns of risks from insurers and funds

LONDON - Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane says in an article that frequent regulatory intervention may need to become the rule to stem risks from non-bank financial firms such as insurers and investment funds. (BRITAIN-BOE/HALDANE (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 300 words)

Egypt plans to dig new Suez Canal costing $4 billion

CAIRO - Egypt plans to build a new Suez Canal alongside the existing 145-year-old historic waterway in a multi-billion dollar project aimed at expanding trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia. (EGYPT-SUEZCANAL/ (UPDATE 2, PICTURE, TV) moved, by Oliver Holmes and Stephen Kalin, 750 words)

COMPANIES

End in sight for HSBC's U.S. sub-prime loans disaster

LONDON - HSBC will speed up the run down of its portfolio of U.S. mortgages with more sales of loan books to hedge funds, potentially allowing it to bring an end to its U.S. subprime foray within three years. (HSBC-USA), moving shortly, by Steve Slater, 600 word)

Toyota reliance on U.S. deepens as emerging markets falter

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp's reliance on the U.S. market to drive record profits is deepening this year, its latest outlook shows, with strong sales of refurbished SUVs and Camry sedans expected to offset weakness in Thailand and other emerging markets. (TOYOTA-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Yoko Kubota, 530 words)

Ecclestone trial halted after F1 boss agrees $100 mln deal

MUNICH, Germany - A German court halts a bribery trial against Bernie Ecclestone in exchange for a $100 million fee, under the terms of a settlement agreed by prosecutors and the chief executive of Formula One. (GERMANY-ECCLESTONE/TRIAL (UPDATE 2, PICTURE, TV), moved, by Jörn Poltz, 575 words)

Standard Life reiterates concerns about Scots independence

LONDON - Edinburgh-based insurance and pensions group Standard Life Plc reiterates concerns that a vote next month for Scotland's independence could create economic and financial risks and says it is sticking to plans to move operations out if necessary. (STANDARD LIFE-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Richa Naidu, 465 words)

Gannett to spin off publishing arm, take control of Cars.com

Gannett Co Inc, the publisher of USA Today, says it will take full ownership of automotive website Cars.com and spin off its publishing assets into a publicly traded company as it focuses on its digital businesses. (CARS.COM-OFFER/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 295 words)

Daimler says assisting Chinese authorities in investigation

SHANGHAI/BEIJING - Daimler's luxury brand Mercedes-Benz says it is cooperating with China's anti-monopoly authorities over an investigation into unspecified matters, after Chinese media reports the German carmaker's Shanghai office has been raided. (CHINA-DAIMLER/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Samuel Shen and Norihiko Shirouzu, 530 words)

Italy's Brembo seeks growth on road, race track and in skies

MILAN - Niki Lauda once won Formula One world championships with Brembo's brakes, while today Ferrari and Porsche use them on road and racing cars alike. Now the Italian firm is about to land another deal equipping top-end Japanese motorbikes, and plans to expand into aviation. (BREMBO-GROWTH/ (PICTURE), moved, by Agnieszka Flak, 1,150 words)

Axel Springer Q2 core profit rises on digital push

FRANKFURT - German publisher Axel Springer reports an 8 percent increase in its second-quarter core profit, as the rise in digital advertising and other online revenues more than compensate for circulation drops. (AXELSPRINGER-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET), by Harro ten Wolde, 500 words)

Pork giant WH Group jumps in HK debut

HONG KONG - WH Group Ltd, the world's biggest pork company, surges 7 percent in its Hong Kong trading debut after sharply scaling back valuations in its second attempt at an IPO. (WH GROUP-LISTING/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Elzio Barreto, 300 words)

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