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  • BANGKOK, Aug 18- Thailand's planning agency cut its forecast for economic growth this year slightly to 1.5-2.0 percent from 1.5-2.5 percent seen in May, citing weaker exports and tourism plus a slow recovery in private investment after months of political unrest.

  • BEIJING, Aug 18- China's new home prices fell in July from June for a third straight month and price softness spread to more major cities, underlining a worsening property downturn despite efforts by many local governments to shore up the sector.

  • HONG KONG, Aug 18- China's yuan held at five-month highs on Monday after the central bank signaled it was comfortable with the currency's recent gains by setting the daily midpoint stronger against the dollar. The People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate at 6.1528 per dollar prior to market open on Monday, slightly stronger than 6.1538 per dollar on Friday.

  • TOKYO, Aug 18- Japan's Nikkei was choppy on Monday morning as geopolitical tensions checked risk appetite, but Chugai Pharmaceutical jumped on a media report that Roche Holding AG's may be close to sealing a deal to gain full ownership of the Japanese drugmaker.

  • TOKYO, Aug 18- Asian stocks eked out gains on Monday after seeing Wall Street recover from the latest round of tensions in the Ukrainian crisis, although renewed uncertainty over the volatile conflict put a firm lid on markets. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 percent.

  • SINGAPORE, Aug 18- Calling the top in financial markets is never easy. "I would not at all subscribe to the idea that markets are expensive and now's the time to get out," said Julie Dickson, a portfolio manager at Ashmore Investment Management in London, a fund with $75 billion in assets worldwide.

  • BEIJING, Aug 18- Average new home prices in China's 70 major cities dropped 0.9 percent in July from June, a third consecutive monthly drop following June's drop of 0.5 percent, according to Reuters calculations from official data published on Monday.

  • *China economic data points to weakness, euro zone slows. LONDON, Aug 15- The price of copper edged higher on Friday as some investors bought back short positions to take profits ahead of the weekend, but gains were capped as a gloomy outlook for the economy in top metals consumer China raised concerns about demand.

  • SYDNEY, Aug 18- London copper was flat on Monday after last week logging its biggest weekly loss in one month and ahead of a fresh reading on China's property market that has dragged on its economy and raised questions over its metals demand.

  • SINGAPORE, Aug 18- Gold extended losses into a second session on Monday, slipping below $1,300 an ounce on technical selling and as equities recovered after an initial sell-off over escalating tensions in Ukraine. *Gold prices dipped below the key psychological level of $1,300 an ounce after falling through support at the 50- day moving average near $1,304.

  • NYMEX-Crude prices fall as supply outlook brightens Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 | 8:22 PM ET

    TOKYO, Aug 18- U.S. crude oil futures inched down on Monday following gains in the previous session, dragged lower by signs of increased supply from Libya and on easing tensions over Ukraine. *U.S. crude futures for September delivery had fallen 45 cents to $96.90 a barrel by 0007 GMT, after jumping $1.77 on Friday.

  • TOKYO, Aug 18- Asian stocks edged up early on Monday after seeing Wall Street recover from the latest round of tensions in the Ukrainian crisis, while the dollar was on the back foot against the safe-haven yen, weighed by a slide in Treasury yields. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 percent.

  • *Carney tells Sunday Times UK rates may rise before pay recovers. SYDNEY, Aug 18- Sterling rose on Monday after the Bank of England indicated that UK interest rates may have to rise even before wage growth recovers, backtracking from earlier comments that prompted markets to push out the risk of a rate hike.

  • *Shares up 2 pct, outperform UK mining sector. MELBOURNE/ LONDON, Aug 15- Diversified mining company BHP Billiton declared its preference for a demerger of its aluminium, manganese and nickel assets on Friday, setting the stage for the formation of a separate business that could be worth at least $12 billion.

  • Fifteen traders, brokers and consultants speaking to Reuters said that most of China's pilot markets launched last year were riddled with an over-allocation of permits, bar pockets of scarcity, such as parts of the Beijing market and the electricity generation sector in Shanghai.

  • TOKYO, Aug 18- Back in 1960, Japan's Kewpie Corp began selling canned baby food, sensing a chance to catch a wave of young families raising kids in an economy roaring back to growth after the devastation of World War Two.

  • JAKARTA/ PHNOM PENH, Aug 18- Labour leaders behind the biggest strikes in Cambodia's $5 billion garment industry knew last year they had a strong case for higher wages: they had already compared notes with activists in neighbouring countries.

  • *U.S. air support helping Kurds in Mosul Dam drive. DOHUK, Iraq, Aug 17- Kurdish fighters pushed to retake Iraq's largest dam on Sunday in an attempt to reverse gains by Islamic State insurgents who have overrun much of the country's north, officials said.

  • NEW YORK, Aug 17- Credit Suisse helped put together billions of dollars in securities that were issued by offshore investment vehicles of Banco Espirito Santo SA and then sold to the Portuguese bank's retail customers, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

  • LOS ANGELES/ NEW YORK, Aug 17- "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," last weekend's most popular film, collected ticket sales of $28.4 million to top the U.S. and Canadian box office rankings for a second consecutive week, beating "Guardians of the Galaxy" in a battle of superhero misfits.