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Russia says it has imposed entry bans on nine U.S. lawmakers and officials in retaliation to Washington's sanctions over Crimea.
At the same time, the rating agency affirmed Russia's BBB foreign currency rating.
Wall Street opened lower, but reversed course after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index rose far more than expected in March, rebounding after a contraction in February.
European stocks closed slightly higher on Thursday, despite concerns about the unwinding of ultra-easy monetary policy in the U.S.
MOSCOW, March 20- Russia imposed retaliatory sanctions on nine U.S. officials and lawmakers on Thursday as tension over Moscow's annexation of Crimea mounted, warning the West it would hit back over "every hostile thrust."
CNBC's Dominic Chu reports the S&P has revised its credit outlook on the Russian Federation from stable to negative.
ROME, March 20- The future of the South Stream pipeline project to carry Russian gas to Europe has been put in question by the escalating dispute over Ukraine, the chief executive of Italian oil major Eni said on Thursday.
*Russia, U.S. both impose sanctions on each other. NEW YORK, March 20- U.S. crude oil futures tumbled over $1 on Thursday as builds in domestic stockpiles and a strong U.S. dollar outweighed worries over the possible impact of tougher U.S. sanctions on Russia.
CNBC's Eamon Javers reports President Obama announced the U.S. will sanction an additional 20 Russian officials.
U.K. prime minister David Cameron calls on the EU to act with a "clear and united voice" to sanction Russia's "unacceptable" behavior.
Political and diplomatic isolation will hurt Putin's pride says Lithuania president, Dalia Grybauskaité, adding that Russia should be suspended from the G8.
PARIS, March 20- French luxury goods maker Hermes saw good demand over the Chinese New Year, it said on Thursday, underscoring its resilience to a crackdown on illicit gift-giving in the industry's biggest market that has hit some rivals hard.
*Moscow says U.S. will be "hit like a boomerang". President Barack Obama announced sanctions on Thursday against prominent Russians including close allies of President Vladimir Putin, as Moscow raced to complete its annexation of Crimea and built up its forces in the region.
Alexander Stubb, Finalnd's minister for European affairs and foreign trade, says that while there isn't much that can be done to counter Russia's annexation of Crimea, Europe is acting in a united way.
*EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss sanctions on Russia, help for Ukraine. *Says further Moscow incursions into Ukraine possible, NATO entry unlikely.
President Obama says the U.S. will impose additional sanctions on Russia including on senior officials in Russian government and a bank that provides material support. Additionally, the U.S. will impose sanctions on key sectors of the Russian economy that could potentially disrupt global markets.
*EU leaders meet on Russia, Ukraine and energy issues. *Leaders may add up to 12 names to Russia travel-ban, asset-freeze list.
CNBC's Eamon Javers reacts to President Obama's decision to ratchet up sanctions against Russia including a Russian bank.
SIMFEROPOL/SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine, March 20- M ilitary personnel and residents in Crimea rushed to apply for Russian passports and drop their Ukrainian citizenship on Thursday, as Moscow tightened its grip on the Black Sea peninsula it wrested away from Kiev.
Facing a possible widening of Western sanctions that may target businessmen close to Putin, some of Russia's oligarchs are increasingly nervous about their companies' prospects. Some of Russia's largest companies are registered abroad where they may benefit from lower tax rates but also may enjoy some distance from the Kremlin and feel beyond its reach.