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  • At its annual Agricultural Outlook conference, the USDA said expansion in the U.S. red meat sector would remain slow due to the decline in cattle inventory. The USDA projected that U.S. steer prices would rise 8 percent in fiscal 2014 to a record $136 per hundredweight, while hog prices would fall 2 percent.

  • *Spain likely to help Sacyr get backing for loans.

  • *Q4 adj loss $0.55/ share vs estimate $0.84/ share. Feb 20- Coal miner Walter Energy Inc reported a smaller-than-expected adjusted quarterly loss as costs to produce steel-making coal, the company's main product, declined.

  • Feb 20- Wal-Mart Stores Inc forecast a lower full-year profit than analysts expect, as fewer food stamps, higher taxes and tighter credit erode its sales, news that sent its shares down 1 percent in premarket trading on Thursday.

  • *Jobless claims fall 3,000 in February payrolls survey week. WASHINGTON, Feb 20- The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to steadily improving labor market conditions, despite two straight months of weak hiring.

  • NEW YORK, Feb 20- U.S. stock index futures turned positive after an industry report showed U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated in February at its fastest pace in nearly four years.

  • TransCanada profit up on gas pipeline results Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 | 9:02 AM ET

    Feb 20- TransCanada Corp, Canada's No. 2 pipeline operator, on Thursday reported higher fourth-quarter earnings on strong results from its gas pipelines and higher volumes on its Keystone oil pipeline system. Net income was C $420 million, or 59 Canadian cents per share, compared with C $306 million, or 43 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

  • US TREASURIES YIELDS RISE AFTER PMI DATA, 10- YR NOTES YIELD 2.75 PCT.

  • NEW YORK, Feb 20- U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated in February at its fastest pace in nearly four years due in part to growth in new orders, an industry report showed on Thursday. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 56.7 in February, its highest since May 2010, compared to 53.7 in the final reading for January.

  • MUMBAI, Feb 20- The Reserve Bank of India will need to continue raising its policy interest rate given the sticky nature of inflation, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, a former IMF chief economist, has raised the key repo rate by 75 basis points to 8.00 percent since becoming head of India's central bank in September.

  • *Ministerial mission to Ukraine could sway decision. BRUSSELS, Feb 20- The European Union was preparing on Thursday to impose sanctions on those responsible for deadly violence in Ukraine as well as to impose an arms embargo on the country, according to a draft ministerial statement obtained by Reuters.

  • Feb 20- Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons said it would buy back up to C $440 million in shares and raise its quarterly dividend, in the face of pressure from shareholders to return capital.

  • *Hungary auction surprisingly strong despite Ukraine fear. *Ukraine, emerging market concerns weigh on CEE assets. BUDAPEST, Feb 20- Central European assets fell on Thursday due to fears that the turmoil in neighbouring Ukraine was worsening and could fuel foreign capital withdrawals from regional markets.

  • The world's largest yoghurt maker also said it was confident about prospects in China despite accusations there of bribery and overpricing, and it hopes to rebuild its baby food business in Asia after an infant formula recall dented profits.

  • WASHINGTON, Feb 20- U.S. consumer prices rose in January as unseasonably cold weather boosted demand for electricity and heating fuel, but inflation pressures remained muted. The Labor Department said on Thursday its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent, with increases in the cost of household energy accounting for most of the increase.

  • U.S. jobless claims fall in Feb payrolls survey week Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 | 8:30 AM ET

    WASHINGTON, Feb 20- The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, pointing to steadily improving labor market conditions, despite two straight months of weak hiring. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

  • LONDON, Feb 20- Gold steadied on Thursday after two sessions of losses that pulled it back from 3-1/ 2 month highs, as a retreat in stock markets after weak French and Chinese data boosted its appeal as an alternative asset.

  • Feb 20- Satellite TV company DirecTV added fewer subscribers in the United States and Latin America in the fourth quarter as competition intensified.

  • *Deal pushes Deutsche Bank deeper into red in 2013 Q4. FRANKFURT, Feb 20- Deutsche Bank ended its decade-long battle with the heirs of late media mogul Leo Kirch on Thursday, closing one of Germany's most acrimonious corporate battles in a deal that will cost the country's largest lender about 900 million euros.

  • KIEV, Feb 20- The head of Kiev's city administration quit the party of President Viktor Yanukovich on Thursday in protest at the bloodshed on the streets of the Ukrainian capital- a sign the head of state may be losing support.