*MSCI ex- Japan edges up. SYDNEY, May 24- Asian shares opened cautiously higher on Friday with Tokyo's Nikkei steadying from its biggest one-day drop in two years as investors breathed a sigh of relief when Wall Street cut losses on an upbeat outlook from Hewlett-Packard.» Read More
*Google buys London site to build 1 mln sq ft HQ. LONDON, Jan 17- Google Inc. is developing a new UK headquarters which could be worth as much as 1 billion pounds when finished, the latest overseas property deal for the cash-rich U.S.
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 17- Online survey company SurveyMonkey has started an $800 million recapitalization that will allow it to cash out early shareholders and investors, the company said on Thursday. SurveyMonkey's financing, first reported by the AllThingsD web site, comprises a $444 million equity component plus a $350 million debt financing.
The simplified plan, which takes full effect in October and applies to the 2,200 advisers who work for the Raymond James& Associates division, is more in line with the compensation models of the nation's other large brokerage firms.
*India had 1 mln tonnes potash as of December. MUMBAI/ WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Jan 17- India has enough potash in reserve to delay its purchases of the key crop nutrient well into the second quarter of this year, putting new pressures on North America's big fertilizer producers at a time of high inventories and stiff competition.
NEW YORK, Jan 17- The Federal Reserve will very likely need to continue its large-scale asset purchases into the second half of this year, since a big improvement in the U.S. labor market is unlikely to have happened by then, a top central bank official said on Thursday.
WASHINGTON, Jan 17- The White House said on Thursday it believed Americans were among the hostages taken by militants at an Algerian gas plant, was concerned about reports of deaths in an operation by Algerian forces and was seeking more information.
"Everyone is wondering whether this dry weather is the new norm... or an anomaly that will soon pass," said Barney Austin, director of hydraulic services for INTERA Inc, an Austin, Texas- based geoscience and engineering consulting firm. "
Jan 17- BlackRock Inc, the world's largest money manager, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit rose 24 percent, bolstered by increased investor confidence in global stock markets. Shares of New York- based BlackRock jumped 4.7 percent to $232.58, a three-year high, on the New York Stock Exchange.
*EBay gains after results beat expectations. *Bank of America, Citigroup results weigh on financials. NEW YORK, Jan 17- Wall Street rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 climbing to a five-year intraday high, on improved housing and jobs data along with better-than-expected results from online marketplace eBay.
LONDON, Jan 17- Top shareholders in crisis-hit Rio Tinto have identified an unusual scapegoat for the hapless takeovers that triggered the company's eye-watering $14 billion writedown- each other.
FRANKFURT, Jan 17- Germany's Federal Court of Justice has ruled that investors can sue Standard& Poor's for failing to adequately reflect the deteriorating financial health of Lehman Bros in its rating assessment shortly before the bank became insolvent.
CHICAGO, Jan 17- U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc said on Thursday it will idle its Plainview, Texas, beef processing plant on Feb. 1 due to tight U.S. cattle supplies brought on by years of drought in the Southern Plains states.
*Spain sells 4.5 bln euros, Portugal readies market return. Spain hit the top end of its 4.5 billion euro target range at a sale of short- and long-term bonds, which took its fundraising for the year to nearly 9 percent of its target.
LONDON, Jan 17- European sales closed higher on Thursday as encouraging sales figures from retailers Carrefour and Associated British Foods helped offset losses in the mining sector.
Jan 17- UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, reported a slight drop in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday as medical costs rose, but revenue increased more than 11 percent, helped by growth in its Medicare, care management, technology and international businesses.
NEW YORK, Jan 17- Squabbling in Washington over the debt ceiling is again raising the specter that the United States may be forced to delay payments on its debt. While the stigma of a default would be damaging enough to investor sentiment, the chaos from a breakdown in financial markets' systems that might result would be even scarier.
*Vietnam Dec coffee shipments exceed expectations. LONDON, Jan 17- Robusta coffee futures on Liffe set a 2-1/ 2 month high on Thursday, boosted by strong roaster demand which has helped absorb higher-than-expected shipments from Vietnam.
LONDON, Jan 17- Britain was not given prior notice of the Algerian government operation to release hostages at the remote gas plant where they are being held and would have preferred to have been informed, Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said on Thursday. Cameron had called his Algerian counterpart Abdelmalek Sellal at around 1130 GMT on Thursday.
*Herbalife to report results on Feb. 19. Jan 17- Weight-loss products company Herbalife Ltd forecast fourth-quarter earnings above analysts' estimates but said it expects a temporary bump in expenses to its fight with activist hedge fund manager William Ackman.
WASHINGTON, Jan 17- The United States and Thailand discussed Bangkok's interest in joining a free-trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region that negotiators hope to wrap up this year, the U.S.