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Eastern Europe

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  • But there was some relaxation in recent market tensions over Ukraine, where many had feared the outbreak of fully-fledged war with Russia.

  • *Rosneft raises stakes in struggle with Gazprom. MOSCOW, March 7- Russia's top crude oil producer Rosneft wants to break the monopoly of another state-owned energy champion, Gazprom, to export gas via pipelines, sources said on Friday, signalling a flare-up between powerful clans.

  • *Ukraine tensions rumble on, gold heads for weekly gains. With the tussle between Ukraine and the West and Russia over Crimea expected to drag on, investors turned their focus to non-farm payrolls due at 1330 GMT, though there was a sense they would still be distorted by the recent icy U.S. weather.

  • BERLIN, March 7- After one of her first encounters with Vladimir Putin in 2002, Angela Merkel joked to aides that she had passed the "KGB test" by staring straight into his eyes without averting her gaze.

  • BERLIN, March 7- The German public has little appetite for imposing economic sanctions on Russia for its incursion into Ukraine but supports the new government in Kiev and has very little confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new poll.

  • MOSCOW, March 7- Russia's top crude oil producer Rosneft has challenged the monopoly of Gazprom on gas exports via pipelines, two company sources said on Friday, in a deepening of a battle for influence between the two state companies.

  • MOSCOW, Mach 7- Russia's central bank is taking steps to prevent the bankruptcy of Moskomprivatbank, the Moscow subsidiary of Ukraine's Privatbank, the Bank of Russia said on Friday.

  • *Crimea's Moscow- backed parliament votes to join Russia. SINGAPORE, March 7- Brent crude climbed towards $108.50 per barrel on Friday, rising for a second straight session as worsening diplomatic relations between Ukraine and key oil producer Russia stoked supply fears.

  • LONDON, March 6- As bankers, traders and investors gathered at Gazprom's London offices for its annual champagne reception, the message from the world's most powerful gas trader was clear: the Russians don't want another gas war with Ukraine.

  • *Crimea's Moscow- backed parliament votes to join Russia. SINGAPORE, March 7- Brent crude climbed towards $108.50 per barrel on Friday, rising for a second straight session as worsening diplomatic relations between Ukraine and key oil producer Russia stoked supply fears.

  • SINGAPORE, March 7- Nickel held near nine-month highs on Friday and is on track for its biggest weekly gain since mid-January with supply tightened by Indonesia's ban on ore exports, while copper steadied on concerns over demand from top consumer China.

  • SEOUL, March 7- U.S. crude oil futures reached $101.80 a barrel on Friday in early Asian trade as the market watched for any supply disruption of oil and gas from Russia to Europe as tensions in Crimea intensified.

  • DUBLIN, March 6- Ukraine may apply to become a member of the European Union, the centre-right European People's Party is set to declare on Friday, according to a draft statement underscoring the determination of key European capitals to back the country trying to fend off Russian intervention.

  • UPDATE 9-Brent, U.S. oil rise as Ukraine risks return Thursday, 6 Mar 2014 | 5:10 PM ET

    *Crimean parliament votes to join Russia. President Barack Obama indicated the crisis between Ukraine and Russia, one of the world's biggest oil producers, was not easing as much as traders thought. "The relief sell-off was probably premature in terms of thinking the situation has resolved itself," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital, LLC in New York.

  • *Staples, Costco shares fall after results, drag on Nasdaq. NEW YORK, March 6- U.S. stocks mostly rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 closing at yet another record on better-than-expected jobless claims data and the European Central Bank's move to keep rates unchanged.

  • WASHINGTON, March 6- President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered sanctions on people responsible for Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, including travel bans and freezing of their U.S. assets, and said a referendum by the region to join Russia would violate international law.

  • NEW YORK/ LONDON, March 6- Gold rose on Thursday, boosted by the European Central Bank's decision to not take fresh action to inject liquidity into the euro zone market, which helped weaken the dollar and increased bullion's currency-hedge appeal. Gold has been up on high tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine.

  • NEW YORK, March 6- World share markets rose on Thursday, supported by hopes that diplomatic efforts would cool the crisis in Ukraine, while the euro advanced to its highest level of the year after the European Central Bank signaled the euro zone needs no additional stimulus.

  • SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine/ BRUSSELS, March 6- Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow- backed government set a referendum in 10 days' time in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian region that drew a sharp riposte from U.S.

  • Senator Edward Markey introduced a bill on Thursday to make the Obama administration's approval of liquefied natural gas exports more complicated, saying expedited permits will not help Ukraine and Europe manage Russia's control of fuel supply.