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  • LONDON, May 23- Brent crude oil held above $110 a barrel on Friday, supported by the crises in Ukraine and Libya as well as by positive economic data in the world's top two oil consumers, the United States and China. Investors are keeping watch on Ukraine, a main gas supply route to Europe from Russia, where presidential elections are set for Sunday.

  • BANGKOK/ SINGAPORE, May 23- A coup may be just what Thailand's top energy firm PTT Pcl needed. PTT, 51- percent owned by Thailand's finance ministry, needs permission for state-related projects but the caretaker government that had been in office since December lacked the power to take policy decisions or make budget approvals.

  • China opens first environmental court Friday, 23 May 2014 | 5:15 AM ET

    BEIJING, May 23- China opened its first environmental court on Friday, state media reported, as the country looks for new ways to tackle crippling air, water and soil pollution. The court established in the southern province of Fujian has appointed 12 specialist consultants who will assist litigators on technical issues, Xinhua news agency reported.

  • UK skeptics surge, Dutch stumble as EU votes Friday, 23 May 2014 | 5:14 AM ET

    LONDON/ AMSTERDAM, May 23- Britain's Eurosceptic UK Independence Party made strong gains but their Dutch counterparts stumbled as more countries voted on Friday in European Parliament elections expected to produce a widespread anti-EU protest vote on a very low turnout.

  • *Little impact of ratings upgrades for Spain and Greece. *Investors wary ahead of Ukraine vote, European result. LONDON, May 23- Asian shares hit one-year highs on Friday and bond yields were on track to notch up a broad-based rise on the week, but European markets softened after a closely watched measure of German business confidence came in weaker than expected.

  • KIGALI, May 23- China's economic slowdown is "manageable" as the country is in a stage of development where reforms and environmental protection take precedence in policy considerations, Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said.

  • VTB sees higher bank reserves due to Ukraine crisis Friday, 23 May 2014 | 4:33 AM ET

    ST PETERSBURG, Russia, May 23- Russia's second-largest bank, VTB, will have higher banking reserves as a result of the Ukraine crisis and this will have an impact on the lender's first-quarter profit, Chief Executive Officer Andrei Kostin said on Friday.

  • HONG KONG/ BEIJING, May 23- A decision by some Chinese banks to stop dollar business transactions with Afghanistan banks is connected to recent attacks in China's western Xinjiang region, two senior banking sources said.

  • Japan govt ups capex view, economy recovering Friday, 23 May 2014 | 4:25 AM ET

    *Govt says capex is rising, ups view for 1st time in 4 mths. TOKYO, May 23- Japan's government raised its view on capital spending for the first time in four months in May on the back of firms' positive earnings, showing the economy remains resilient despite some negative impact from a sales tax hike last month.

  • CEO OF RUSSIA'S VTB KOSTIN SAYS UKRAINE'S CRISIS WILL RESULT IN INCREASE IN BANK RESERVES, IMPACT Q1 NET INCOME.

  • *Caution ahead of Ukraine, EU election results. *Smiths Group slips, warns on profit in detection unit. Britain's anti-EU UKIP party made strong gains in local elections, according to early results on Friday, while a Dutch exit poll for the EU elections indicated that the anti-Islam, Eurosceptic Freedom Party had fallen well short of its goal of topping the poll.

  • UPDATE 1-S&P warns Turkey on inconsistent policy Friday, 23 May 2014 | 4:09 AM ET

    ISTANBUL, May 23- Standard& Poor's maintained its negative outlook on Turkey's credit rating on Friday, warning that policy had become less predictable ahead of two elections and could weigh on the economy's resilience to external shocks and long-term growth.

  • BERLIN, May 23- German business sentiment fell more than expected to the lowest level so far this year in May, signaling that Europe's largest economy is expanding at a slower rate after the strongest quarterly growth in three years between January and March.

  • ST PETERSBURG, Russia, May 23- A senior Russian minister said on Friday Moscow's strategic goal is the integration of the post-Soviet region and those who oppose this could not be considered partners.

  • TABLE-German Ifo business climate index falls in May Friday, 23 May 2014 | 4:05 AM ET

    BERLIN, May 23- Germany's Ifo economic research institute gave the following data from its May business climate survey on Friday:. GERMANY MAY 14 APRIL 14 MAY 13 BUSINESS CLIMATE 110.4 111.2 105.7. BUSINESS CONDITIONS 114.8 115.3 110.0.

  • SYDNEY, May 23- London copper was headed for a small weekly gain on Friday following a push to two-month peaks earlier this week, while nickel looked set to pocket a near 4 percent rise, building on the year's stellar advance after Indonesia curbed supply.

  • OSAKA, Japan, May 23- Panasonic Corp wants to be the exclusive producer of lithium-ion battery cells at U.S. electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc's planned multibillion-dollar battery factory, a senior executive of the Japanese company said on Friday.

  • RUSSIAN FIRST DEPUTY PM SHUVALOV SAYS DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHY UNITED STATES SHOULD FIGHT RUSSIA'S STRATEGIC GOALS OF POST-SOVIET INTEGRATION.

  • RUSSIAN FIRST DEPUTY PM SHUVALOV SAYS COUNTRIES THAT OPPOSE RUSSIA'S STRATEGIC GOALS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC STRENGTH.

  • BEIJING, May 23- China said on Friday that the people who carried out an attack which killed 31 people in the capital of the country's troubled Xinjiang region appeared to be influenced by "terrorist" organisations outside China.