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  • *Deal could attract Middle Easterners to Africa. DUBAI/ LAGOS, Sept 4- Qatar National Bank on Thursday bought a 12.5 percent stake in Ecobank for about $200 million, its latest purchase in a drive to be the biggest bank in the Middle East and Africa by 2017..

  • Global business activity remained strong in August -PMI Thursday, 4 Sep 2014 | 11:20 AM ET

    LONDON, Sept 4- Global business activity remained strong last month, with robust growth in both services and manufacturing, a survey showed on Thursday. JP Morgan's Global All-Industry Output Index, produced with Markit, dipped to 55.1 from July's 41- month high of 55.5, holding above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction for the 23rd month.

  • HOUSTON, Sept 4- A federal judge has found oil giant BP Plc "grossly negligent" for its role in the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a ruling that could add billions of dollars in fines to the more than $42 billion in charges taken so far for the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history. Shares of BP traded in the United States fell 5 percent, or $2.40, to $45.31.

  • *Tibco Software gains; to review alternatives. *Ciena stumbles after results, outlook. "The market likes what it heard," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

  • PRAGUE, Sept 4- Slovakia will strive to soften proposed European sanctions against Russia relating to exports of dual-use items and financial markets to protect its economy, Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Thursday. The EU has said it is considering new sanctions against Russia to punish Moscow for sending troops into eastern Ukraine.

  • NEW YORK/ STOCKHOLM, Sept 4- Sweden's Electrolux AB is near a deal to buy General Electric Co's iconic appliance business for more than $2.5 billion, in a move that would significantly expand its reach in North America, people familiar with the matter said. Representatives for GE and Electrolux declined to comment.

  • Where retreating from rising seas is the only option Thursday, 4 Sep 2014 | 10:50 AM ET

    SAXIS, Virginia, Sept 4- This town on Chesapeake Bay is losing three to five feet of shoreline a year and suffered damage during hurricane Sandy. New York City is planning a $20 billion mix of defense and adaptation measures- most notably, construction of "The Big U," a 10- mile fortress of berms and movable walls around lower Manhattan.

  • WALLOPS ISLAND, Virginia, Sept 4- Missions flown from the NASA base here have documented some of the most dramatic evidence of a warming planet over the past 20 years: the melting of polar ice, a force contributing to a global rise in ocean levels.

  • NEW YORK, Sept 4- Fast-food workers in 150 U.S. cities kicked off protests for a $15- per-hour wage that included a sit-down in New York's Times Square, where 19 demonstrators were arrested on Thursday, police said.

  • NEW YORK, Sept 4- The euro hit fresh 14- month lows against the U.S. dollar and nearly two-year lows against the Swiss franc on Thursday after the European Central Bank cut interest rates and said it would launch an asset purchase program to ward off deflation.

  • Brazil auto production up 5.3 pct in Aug Thursday, 4 Sep 2014 | 10:36 AM ET

    SAO PAULO, Sept 4- Automobile production in Brazil rose 5.3 percent and sales fell 7.6 percent in August from July, national automakers' association Anfavea said on Thursday. Compared with a year ago, auto output fell 22.4 percent and sales dropped 17.2 percent.

  • WASHINGTON, Sept 4- Home improvement giant Home Depot has been in contact with the U.S. Customer data could have been stolen from nearly all of Home Depot's 2,200 stores in the United States, according to new information released on Wednesday by security website KrebsonSecurity. Home Depot shares were up about 1 percent in early U.S. trading.

  • NEW YORK, Sept 4- U.S. Treasury prices fell on Thursday, undermined by aggressive expansionary monetary policy measures from the European Central Bank, including a cut in benchmark interest rates to fresh record lows that negatively impacted inflation sensitive assets.

  • NEW YORK, Sept 4- The pace of growth in the U.S. services sector rose in August to its highest level since 2005, according to an industry report released on Thursday. The Institute for Supply Management said its services index rose to 59.6 last month from 58.7 in July.

  • DUBAI, Sept 4- Iran's central bank has received a total of $1 billion of previously frozen oil revenue from Japan under the terms of an extended nuclear agreement with six world powers, state news agency IRNA reported on Thursday.

  • LONDON, Sept 4- European shares rose on Thursday, with a key benchmark briefly hitting a 6-1/ 2 year high, as the European Central Bank further cut interest rates and unveiled plans to buy assets in a bid to shore up inflation in the euro zone.

  • *Google case started with EU investigation in late 2010. BRUSSELS, Sept 4- Microsoft and publishers across Europe attacked Google's antitrust deal with EU regulators, calling it a "catastrophic" proposal that would serve only to entrench its dominance of the online search market.

  • *France, Germany, other major European averages gain ground. NEW YORK, Sept 4- Stock markets gained and the euro sank on Thursday after the European Central Bank unexpectedly cut already ultra-low interest rates and detailed plans to start buying loans and bonds next month to prop up the continent's struggling economy.

  • LONDON, Sept 4- Gold was firm above $1,270 an ounce on Thursday as the negative impact from a weaker euro and surging global shares after the European Central Bank cut interest rates to record lows was counteracted by lower than expected U.S. jobs data.