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  • BRUSSELS, March 20- European policymakers agreed on Thursday to complete a banking union with an agency to shut failing euro zone banks but there will be no euro zone backstop for the new fund to help cover the costs of such closures.

  • TOKYO, March 20- Japan stands ready to unleash further monetary and fiscal stimulus as needed to support the economy if the impact of a coming sales tax hike proves worse than expected, a senior government official said on Thursday.

  • Britain sets out Europe's energy alternatives to Russia Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 5:16 AM ET

    BRUSSELS, March 20- Europe has a range of options to shore up its energy security and cut dependence on Russian supplies, including asking the United States to export more gas and working with Iraq, a British government document says.

  • *China's yuan skids to its lowest in a year. LONDON, March 20- The dollar steadied at higher levels on Thursday and stocks and bonds fell across the globe as investors positioned for U.S. interest rates to rise sooner and faster than previously thought.

  • TOKYO, March 20- A torrent of foreign capital into Japanese shares, the driving force behind last year's surge, has reversed, as impatience with "Abenomics" made Tokyo one of the worst-performing markets since the start of 2014. The first two arrows in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy quiver- huge government spending and unprecedented monetary easing- drove the Tokyo market up 57 percent in 2013. But foreign investors are growing tired of waiting for the third arrow, structural reform for long-term growth.

  • Profit growth slows sharply at China's state firms Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 5:01 AM ET

    BEIJING, March 20- Annual profit growth at China's state firms slowed sharply to 2.8 percent in the first two months of 2014, official data showed on Thursday, adding to signs that the world's second-largest economy is faltering in the first quarter.

  • LOS ANGELES, March 20- Young actors Shailene Woodley and Theo James arrived on the Hollywood set of the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" TV talk show by sliding above a cheering crowd while harnessed to a zip line, a dramatic entrance to spark interest in "Divergent," the movie Lions Gate Entertainment Corp hopes to make its next hit franchise.

  • Europe shares dip after shift to Fed rate guidance Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 4:53 AM ET

    *FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 pct, Euro STOXX 50 down 0.3 pct. *Siemens boosted by UBS rating upgrade. At 0837 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.2 percent at 1,302.56 points, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was down 0.3 percent at 3,066.87 points.

  • FOREX-Dollar pauses after Fed-led surge Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 4:49 AM ET

    *Dollar strength helps push China's yuan to one-year low. LONDON, March 20- The dollar steadied against its major currency peers on Thursday after being jerked higher overnight by a surprise message from Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen that rises in U.S. interest rates are not as far away as most had thought.

  • *Asia-Pacific revenue rises 12.4 pct. March 20- Premier Farnell Plc, a distributor of small electronics and electronic parts, reported an 8.4 percent rise in full-year pretax profit, helped by higher-than-expected sales in emerging markets like China and India in the second half of the year.

  • MOSCOW, March 20- Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Thursday he saw no need for the early repayment of Eurobonds bought from Ukraine. "There are no grounds for early repayment," he told journalists at a local business conference. Anyway Ukraine is working on a programme with the International Monetary Fund... and we hope they will have the resources. "

  • BERLIN, March 20- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech in parliament that EU leaders would signal their readiness to ramp up punitive measures against Russia, including politically sensitive economic sanctions, at a summit starting on Thursday.

  • TOKYO, March 20- Japanese companies are concerned about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's forceful diplomacy with neighbours like China, at a time when demand from Asia's giant appears to be ebbing, a Reuters survey showed. More than half the executives in the Reuters Corporate Survey said demand from China is peaking or declining.

  • BEIJING, March 20- Premier Li Keqiang said China will speed up investment and construction plans to ensure domestic demand expands at a stable rate- an indication authorities are considering practical measures to support slackening economic growth.

  • March 20- An experimental cancer vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline has failed in a second test- this time against lung cancer- but the British group said it still hoped to find a sub-group of patients in which it would work.

  • DUBAI, March 20- Buyout firm GrowthGate Capital plans to take freight-forwarding company Able Logistics Group public in Dubai around the end of this year, a senior GrowthGate executive told Reuters, in a sign of growing strength in the region's equity markets. "We aim to make it this year or early next year," Haythem Macki, a partner at GrowthGate, said.

  • RUSSIAN FINANCE MINISTER SILUANOV SAYS NO NEED FOR EARLY REPAYMENT OF EUROBONDS BOUGHT FROM UKRAINE.

  • BEIJING, March 20- China Mobile Ltd, the world's largest mobile carrier by subscribers, will spend more this year to bolster its 4 G mobile network to counter its first annual profit drop in 14 years. China Mobile also said it plans to sell 100 million 4 G smartphones and tablets this year following the January launch of Apple Inc's iPhone on its network.

  • European shares hit by shift to Fed rate guidance Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 4:13 AM ET

    LONDON, March 20- European stocks fell in early deals on Thursday, led lower by growth-sensitive stocks after the U.S. Fed Chair Janet Yellen sent U.S. stocks and bonds tumbling overnight after she suggested they could rise by mid-2015, a potentially more aggressive path than many had anticipated.

  • HONG KONG, March 20- Hong Kong shares tumbled to an eight-month low on Thursday as disappointing China Mobile earnings and news that the Federal Reserve could raise U.S. interest rates sooner than expected battered the market. The Hang Seng Index ended down 1.8 percent at 21,182.16, its lowest close since July 10.