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  • *Italy cut F-35 order by 30 pct 2 years ago. ROME, March 18- Italy's review of its military needs and possible cuts to its order for 90 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets will be decided by the end of the year, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said on Tuesday.

  • *Barra prepared to testify before Congress. DETROIT, March 18- General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Tuesday that she did not learn details about defective GM cars linked to 12 deaths until Jan. 31, just two weeks after she took over as CEO and nearly 13 years after GM engineers first documented problems.

  • March 18- Microsoft Corp's shares scaled levels last seen in the dotcom boom on Tuesday following reports that the company plans to unveil an iPad version of its Office software suite, potentially generating billions of dollars in revenue.

  • NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters)- U.S. crude oil futures rose by more than $1 on Tuesday as strong gains in equities outweighed forecasts for another build in domestic supplies, while Brent was bolstered by continuing tensions in Ukraine.

  • *Putin says Russia does not want further Ukraine split. *Microsoft shares rally 4 pct, lead S&P 500. NEW YORK, March 18- Major world equity markets rose on Tuesday while the safe-haven yen pared gains after President Vladimir Putin, while approving plans to make Crimea part of Russia, said he did not want to split Ukraine.

  • *UK unveils big shake-up of top Bank of England officials. LONDON, March 18- Britain shook up the Bank of England on Tuesday, breaking the all-male grip at the top as it appointed two new deputy governors and a chief economist who has been highly critical of the banking industry.

  • WASHINGTON, March 18- U.S. inflation was muted in February and housing starts fell for a third straight month, giving the Federal Reserve plenty of room to keep interest rates low even as it scales back the amount of money it is pumping into the economy.

  • March 18- Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard said founder Alain Bouchard would step down from the role of chief executive and hand over the top job to Chief Operating Officer Brian Hannasch.

  • MERIDA, Venezuela, March 18- An engineering student armed with a slingshot commands a barricade. This is Merida, the small university city in western Venezuela where students and faculty have spent more than a month protesting against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

  • *Sees higher shipments, margins in 2014 as China contributes less. *Says has 1 GW worth of power plant projects across China. A recovery in solar panel prices after a four year slump has helped Yingli's rivals such as Trina Solar Ltd, JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd post profits in recent quarters, while JinkoSolar Holding Co Ltd posted a profit last August.

  • March 18- Stock market index provider MSCI Inc said it would sell influential governance unit Institutional Shareholder Services to private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners for $364 million to focus on its risk investment products and services business.

  • Between 7,000 and 10,000 gallons of sweet crude leaked into the Oak Glen Nature Preserve about a quarter of a mile from the Great Miami River, according to early estimates from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Microsoft soars on Office-for-iPad report Tuesday, 18 Mar 2014 | 12:24 PM ET

    March 18- Microsoft Corp's shares scaled levels last seen in the dotcom boom on Tuesday following reports that the company plans to unveil an iPad version of its Office software suite, potentially generating billions of dollars in revenue.

  • March 18- Shares of Galena Biopharma Inc fell as much as 21 percent on Tuesday after the company said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating its dealings with an external investor-relations firm.

  • *Putin tells parliament he does not want more of Ukraine. *Microsoft shares rally, near $40 for first time since 2000. NEW YORK, March 18- U.S. stocks rose for a second straight day on Tuesday, with the S&P moving within 1 percent of record levels after comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin eased concerns that tensions over Ukraine might escalate.

  • DUBLIN, March 18- Barclays has given its top dozen executives nearly 32 million pounds in share awards, 20 percent lower than a year ago, partly due to a drop in its stock price.

  • *Trucks to ditch brick shape in favour of sleek look. BRUSSELS, March 18- European truck design will be transformed to make driver cabs more aerodynamic, cutting emissions and improving safety, under new rules backed by EU politicians on Tuesday.

  • March 18- U.S. chief executive officers are somewhat more positive about the economy, including plans for hiring and capital spending over the next six months, although they expect only tepid growth this year, according to a quarterly survey by the Business Roundtable released on Tuesday.

  • *Ukraine crisis hits Russian markets, Lenta listing. FRANKFURT, March 18- German retailer Metro AG has put on ice a plan for a stock market listing of a stake in its Russian wholesale business because of market turmoil over the crisis in Ukraine.

  • DETROIT, March 18- General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra said she did not learn details about defective GM cars linked to 12 deaths until Jan. 31, just two weeks after she was named CEO and nearly 13 years after GM engineers first documented problems. The first death linked to the defect occurred in Maryland in July 2005.