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  • *Madrid shares hit after Argentina defaults again. LONDON, July 31- Doubts about the health of Europe's economy dominated trade on its major stock markets on Thursday after a cautious message from the U.S.

  • LONDON, July 31- British utility Centrica posted a 35 percent fall in operating profit for the first half of the year as a mild winter in its home market led to reduced energy demand and extreme weather in North America increased costs. Centrica made 1.032 billion pounds in operating profit, down from 1.583 billion a year earlier, it said on Thursday.

  • SINGAPORE, July 31- Singapore risks tarnishing its business-friendly reputation by implementing new labour laws that require companies to prioritise hiring locals over foreigners for middle income jobs, analysts say.

  • *OPEC oil output rises in July from June- Reuters survey. LONDON, July 31- Brent crude slipped below $106 a barrel on Thursday as higher OPEC output and disappointing demand in the United States outweighed tensions in the Middle East, Africa and Ukraine.

  • Q2 GDP partly offset by mixed Fed views. LONDON, July 31- The dollar held just below a 10- month high against a basket of currencies on Thursday after the Federal Reserve said it was in no rush to raise interest rates, tempering a rally that dates back to early May.

  • MOSCOW/ STRASBOURG, July 31- The European Court of Human Rights awarded shareholders in Yukos 1.9 billion euros in compensation after the former oil company argued Russia had unlawfully seized it after imposing bogus taxes and via a sham auction.

  • MOSCOW/ STRASBOURG, July 31- The European Court of Human Rights awarded shareholders in Yukos 1.9 billion euros in compensation after the former oil company argued Russia had unlawfully deprived the company of its possessions by imposing bogus taxes and a sham auction of its key asset.

  • PARIS, July 31- French aerospace group Safran raised its profit target on the back of higher-than-expected first-half earnings on Thursday, pushing its shares higher despite slower services growth and rising R&D spending.

  • MOSCOW/ STRASBOURG, July 31- The European Court of Human Rights awarded shareholders in Yukos 1.9 billion euros in compensation after the former oil company argued Russia had unlawfully deprived the company of its possessions by imposing bogus taxes and a sham auction of its key asset.

  • HONG KONG, July 31- Hong Kong shares posted their best monthly performance since 2012 on Thursday, though gains for the day were capped by weakness in a few Chinese heavyweight companies. The China Enterprises Index of the leading offshore Chinese listings in Hong Kong also edged up 0.1 percent.

  • TOKYO, July 31- Panasonic Corp confirmed on Thursday it would invest in U.S. electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc's planned $5 billion lithium-ion battery plant in the United States, but said it had yet to decide on the size of its investment. "We have not yet decided exactly how much we will invest and when," said Chief Financial Officer Hideaki Kawai.

  • *Investors focused on possible Pfizer return. LONDON, July 31- AstraZeneca raised its sales and earnings forecasts for the year on Thursday, showing resilience after seeing off a $118 billion takeover approach from rival Pfizer two months ago.

  • EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS RULES RUSSIA SHOULD PAY 1.9 BLN EUROS PLUS TAX IN YUKOS CASE.

  • *IRS auditing thousands of U.S. citizens in Israel. TEL AVIV, July 31- It was called the " Israel Project", an operation by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service that has uncovered false claims for child tax credits involving an estimated tens of millions of dollars filed by U.S. citizens living in Israel.

  • MOSCOW, July 31- Russia's top natural gas producer Gazprom will buy pipes worth $1 billion from Russian companies and a trader, Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, citing company documents.

  • TOKYO, July 31- Two of Japan's three biggest banks saw profits fall at double-digit rates in the first quarter as gains in the value of shares the banks' owned grew at a far slower rate than last year, when government pro-growth pledges sparked a share price surge.

  • MOSCOW, July 31- Russia's consumer protection watchdog said on Thursday it had stopped imports of Ukrainian juice, Moscow's latest trade ban announced following new Western sanctions over Ukraine.

  • MOSCOW, July 31- Russian stock indexes rose strongly on Thursday after the European Commission published a new list of individuals and companies subject to sanctions over Ukraine which spared major listed companies.

  • *To cut Russia store opening plan for 2014, 2015. BERLIN, July 31- German sportswear company Adidas said it would scale back plans to expand in Russia and overhaul its golf business, as problems in both areas forced it to cut its outlook for 2014 and say targets it had set for 2015 were no longer achievable.

  • Japan's MUFG Q1 profit falls 5.8 pct on Thai bank costs Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 3:23 AM ET

    TOKYO, July 31- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc on Thursday said net profit fell 5.8 percent in April-June in part due to expenses after acquiring Thailand's Bank of Ayudhya PCL. MUFG, which owns about one-fifth of Morgan Stanley, reported net profit of 240.5 billion yen in April-June from 255.3 billion yen a year earlier.