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TOP STORIES

ECB cuts rates to repel deflation threat as pressure mounts

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank cut interest rates to a fresh record low, unexpectedly bringing borrowing costs close to zero to lift inflation from rock-bottom levels and support the stagnating euro zone economy. (ECB-RATES/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Paul Carrel, 645 words)

+ See also:

- EUROZONE-ECONOMY/ECB (UPDATE 1), moved, by Martin Santa, 520 words

Stocks surge, euro slumps after ECB cuts rates again

LONDON - European stock markets surge and the euro sinks after the European Central Bank surprises by cutting already ultra-low interest rates to prop up a struggling economy. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 6), moved, by Patrick Graham, 530 words)

+ See also:

- RUSSIA-MARKETS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, 445 words

EU prepares powers to deal with Russian winter gas cut

LONDON - The European Union is preparing to take action to secure gas supplies this winter if its biggest supplier, Russia, cuts exports due to the crisis in Ukraine, a draft document seen by Reuters shows. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/GAS-EU, moved, by Henning Gloystein, 800 words)

Manulife to buy Standard Life's Canadian assets for $3.7 bln

TORONTO/LONDON - Manulife Financial Corp and Britain's Standard Life have agreed a near-$4 billion deal for the Canadian operations of the British insurer as part of a broader global tie-up. (STANDARD LIFE-MANULIFE FINL/MERGERS (UPDATE 3), moved, by Euan Rocha, Jeffrey Hodgson and Simon Jessop, 850 words)

ECONOMY

Bank of England holds rates despite robust recovery

LONDON - The Bank of England kept interest rates on hold on Thursday as Britain's economy continued to thrive, although risks to the recovery both at home and abroad remain. (BRITAIN ECONOMY/BOE-DECISION (UPDATE 1), moved, by Andy Bruce, 590 words)

+ See also:

- BRITAIN-ECONOMY/CBI, moved, 300 words

US jobless claims rise; continuing claims lowest since 2007 WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose a bit more than expected last week, but remained at levels consistent with tightening a labour market conditions. (USA-ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT, moved, 260 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/PRODUCTIVITY, moved, 180 words

- USA-ECONOMY/EMPLOYMENT-ADP, moved, 100 words

German industry orders weather Ukraine crisis in rebound

BERLIN - German industrial orders rose at their strongest rate in more than a year in July, raising hopes that Europe's biggest economy may yet weather the crisis in Ukraine and bounce back after a tricky second quarter. (ECONOMY-GERMANY/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 520 words)

US, Europe head toward delay over swaps squabble - source

WASHINGTON - The European Union is discussing delaying a deadline for a second time in its efforts to reform the global derivatives market, a source familiar with the matter says, as talks with U.S. regulators have failed to produce a breakthrough on a main sticking point. (FINANCIAL-REGULATIONS/SWAPS (EXCLUSIVE), moved, by Douwe Miedema, 665 words)

Retail investors watch as Scottish independence vote narrows

LONDON - The prospect of major financial fallout from a "yes" vote in Scotland's independence referendum in two weeks time could have a big impact on retail investors, but there are no signs yet they are moving their money. (SCOTLAND-INDEPENDENCE/INVESTORS, moved, by Simon Jessop and Nishant Kumar, 675 words)

Israeli finance ministry, central bank lock horns on budget

JERUSALEM - Only days after reaching a ceasefire after 50 days of war against Hamas in Gaza, Israel finds itself fighting another battle, this time between the finance ministry and the central bank over next year's budget. (ISRAEL-ECONOMY/BUDGET, moved, by Steven Scheer, 900 words)

COMPANIES

WSP Global buys Balfour Beatty's U.S division for $1.35 bln

LONDON - British building group Balfour Beatty is to sell its U.S. design and engineering business, Parsons Brinckerhoff, to Canada's WSP Global Inc for $1.35 billion, as it pushes ahead with its turnaround strategy. (PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF GROUP-OFFER/ (UPDATE 2), expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, 445 words)

Bilfinger shakes investor trust with third profit warning

FRANKFURT - German industrial services and construction company Bilfinger says it is "reasonably" sure it could meet new profit forecasts after cutting them for a third time in two months because of weak power markets, driving its shares down 11 percent. (BILFINGER-WARNING/CONFIDENCE (UPDATE 1), moved, by Georgina Prodhan, 495 words)

Rocket Internet creates emerging market online fashion firm

BERLIN - German venture capital group Rocket Internet is bringing together its five emerging market fashion brands to create a company worth 2.7 billion euros ($3.6 billion) and simplify its structure before a likely stock market listing. (ROCKETINTERNET-KINNEVIK/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Emma Thomasson, 625 words)

Co-op tasks Pennycook to rebuild food-to-funerals mutual

LONDON - Britain's Co-operative Group says it will rebuild its food-to-funeral operations under chief executive Richard Pennycook after the loss of control of its bank and disposals helped stem the large losses of last year. (CO OPERATIVE GRP-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Paul Sandle, 415 words)

Ex-Genentech boss Levinson resigns from Roche's board

ZURICH - Swiss drugmaker Roche says that Art Levinson has resigned from its board of directors with immediate effect, in order to avoid any conflict of interest given his role as chief executive at Google's Calico. (ROCHE-MOVES/ (UPDATE 1), moved, by Caroline Copley, 310 words)

+ See also:

- ROCHE-M&A/CHAIRMAN, moved, 275 words

French ferry firm must repay state aid

PARIS - France-Corsica ferry operator SNCM will have to pay back 220 million euros ($289 million) of state aid after the European Union's highest court rejected an appeal by the French government seeking to overturn a 2012 order. (VEOLIA-FERRY/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, 535 words)

Singapore's GIC gives private equity firms run for money

SINGAPORE - Singapore's GIC is taking the unusual step of investing directly in unlisted firms, a move bankers say will be mimicked by other sovereign wealth funds as low yields spur fund managers to adopt a more hands-on attitude in their search for higher returns. (GIC-PRIVATEEQUITY/, moved, Saeed Azhar and Rachel Armstrong, 1,050 words)

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