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  • LONDON, April 25- Britain's most ambitious smart grid project is being built on a housing estate in Leighton Buzzard, a rapidly growing commuter town north of London. UK Power Networks, which owns and operates electricity cables and lines across southeast England, is installing a giant battery farm that will supply electricity to local users at peak times.

  • *Market wary of Ukraine violence, still-dry U.S. PARIS/ SINGAPORE, April 25- Chicago wheat futures extended gains to a fourth session on Friday, trading at a one-week high, as the market remained wary of rising tension in Ukraine and dryness in the U.S. wheat belt.

  • April 25- Canada will not allow restaurants to hire any more temporary foreign workers until the federal government completes a review of a program set up as a last resort for employers to fill jobs when no qualified Canadians are available.

  • LONDON, April 25- Gold rose to about $1,300 an ounce on Friday, after hitting its weakest level in 2-1/ 2 months the day before, as violence in Ukraine weighed on equity markets and the dollar.

  • President Barack Obama will press European allies on Friday to impose more sanctions if Russia steps up action in Ukraine, while a cut in its credit rating sent a strong reminder to Moscow of the economic consequences of its involvement in the crisis.

  • *Microsoft rises as earnings beat expectations. NEW YORK, April 25- U.S. stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Friday as a number of bellwether names, including Amazon and Ford, fell following their quarterly results, overshadowing positive numbers from Microsoft.

  • The devaluation of the Venezuelan currency has hurt many companies including Ford Motor Co, Procter& Gamble Co and Mondelez International Inc, the maker of Cadbury and Oreo, as it reduces the value of sales in the Latin American country.

  • LONDON, April 25- British retail sales unexpectedly chalked up modest growth in March, bucking weak industry data and adding to signs that a consumer-led economic recovery is taking hold. Retail sales volumes edged up by 0.1 percent last month, the Office for National Statistics said, beating economists' expectations for a 0.4 percent decline.

  • CAMBRIDGE, England, April 25- Talk of a $100 billion bid by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer for its British rival AstraZeneca is "a commercial matter between the companies", Britain's finance minister George Osborne said on Friday. Both companies have declined to comment on a weekend newspaper report that AstraZeneca spurned an approach from Pfizer earlier this year.

  • GE in talks to buy Alstom's global power arm-sources Friday, 25 Apr 2014 | 8:24 AM ET

    PARIS, April 25- General Electric is in talks with Alstom to take over its global power business and a deal could be announced in the coming days, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. The power business accounts for nearly three quarters of Alstom's 20.3 billion euro revenue.

  • *Q1 earnings per share 99 cents vs est of $1.00/ shr. April 25- State Street Corp, the world's second-largest custody bank, reported a 22 percent fall in first-quarter profit, mainly due to higher expenses related to recent job cuts.

  • LONDON, April 25- Base metals prices were under pressure from the deepening crisis in Ukraine on Friday, but copper bucked the trend, edging up to a seven-week high on rising seasonal demand in top metals consumer China. A war of words ratcheted up after both Russia and Ukraine deployed troops close to their frontier.

  • *Q1 adj shr $1.84 vs est $1.70. Production was up 6 percent in North America and 7 percent in Europe and Africa, Lear said. Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co and BMW AG are Lear's largest customers and made up about 54 percent of its sales in 2013..

  • Rating agencies buy into euro zone recovery story Friday, 25 Apr 2014 | 8:17 AM ET

    On a day of credit updates scheduled for three of the bloc's top four economies, Standard& Poor's affirmed its ratings on France, while Fitch raised its outlook on Italy and was expected to boost its view of Spain after Europe's markets close.

  • *Belgium's Verhofstadt running for European Commission president. BRUSSELS, April 25- The European Union must not retreat behind national borders to pull out of its economic slump, said Guy Verhofstadt, a prominent supporter of a federal Europe who is seeking the presidency of the European Commission.

  • LONDON, April 25- Investors are switching their attention back to developing countries' debt after flirting with U.S. and European junk bonds during a year of turbulence in emerging markets.

  • April 25- Prestige Brands Holdings Inc, a marketer and distributor of healthcare and cleaning products, said it would buy rival Insight Pharmaceuticals Corp for $750 million in cash to expand its range of feminine care products.

  • DETROIT, April 25- Ford Motor Co posted lower-than-expected first-quarter profit on Friday as the No. 2 U.S. automaker saw higher warranty costs in North America for older vehicles by $400 million. Net income fell 39 percent to $989 million, or 24 cents a share, from $1.61 billion, or 40 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

  • US STOCKS-Futures fall as Ukraine offsets Microsoft Friday, 25 Apr 2014 | 7:30 AM ET

    *Microsoft shares rise after results, Amazon down. NEW YORK, April 25- U.S. stock index futures edged lower on Friday as intensifying violence in Ukraine and weakness in Amazon.com overshadowed positive results from Microsoft Corp.. *Amazon fell 2 percent to $330.25 after posting a jump in revenue that was offset by sharp increases in spending.

  • KHABAROVSK, Russia, April 25- As Washington and its European allies discuss extending sanctions against Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, Russia's Agriculture Minister told reporters on Friday that higher food imports from other countries would make up for any EU cuts.