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  • HONG KONG, July 24- Hong Kong shares rose on Thursday, thanks to the strength of mainland stocks as investors plowed into blue chips, cheered by the progress of a trading plan that will soon make it much easier for foreigners to buy Shanghai stocks.

  • *PMI points to 0.4 percent quarterly GDP growth- Markit. Markit's Composite Purchasing Managers' Index, based on surveys of thousands of companies across the region and a good early indicator of overall growth, rose to 54.0 in July from 52.8, its highest since April.

  • *Hamas sticks to demand embargo on Gaza be lifted. GAZA/ JERUSALEM, July 24- Israel won a partial reprieve from the economic pain of its Gaza war on Thursday with the lifting of a U.S. ban on commercial flights to Tel Aviv, as fighting pushed the Palestinian death toll over 700..

  • European shares edge lower on mixed earnings, PMIs Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 | 3:52 AM ET

    The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 slipped 0.2 percent in early trade to 1,372.80 points, with benchmark indexes in France, Germany and the UK down 0.3 to 0.6 percent.

  • BASEL, July 24- Swiss drugmaker Roche confirmed its full-year sales and profit targets on Thursday as growing momentum for its new breast cancer medicines and professional diagnostics products countered the effects of a strong Swiss franc.

  • The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 slipped 0.2 percent in early trade, to 1,372.80 points, with benchmark indexes in France, Germany and the UK down 0.3 to 0.6 percent.

  • HONG KONG, July 24- China shares rose sharply on Thursday as investors plowed into blue chips, cheered by the progress of a trading plan that will soon make it much easier for foreigners to buy Shanghai stocks.

  • The company forecast that pretax profits for the 12 months to the end of September would be in the range of 545 million pounds to 570 million pounds and the range included the impact from situations in Israel, Egypt and Moscow.

  • LAUNCESTON, Australia, July 24- The election of reformist Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as Indonesia's new president has spurred hopes of a rapprochement with global miners and the scaling back of some of the nationalistic resource policies.

  • BANGALORE, July 24- India's economic growth will accelerate this fiscal year but economists in a Reuters poll trimmed their forecasts, tempering their optimism the first majority government in three decades would quickly bring in reforms and spur business investment.

  • TOKYO, July 24- Japan's economic recovery appears more fragile after a recent tax increase but the central bank looks less likely to ease policy, a Reuters poll showed, underscoring the uncertainty surrounding the world's third-biggest economy.

  • BEIJING, July 24- China's economy probably will grow at its slowest pace in 24 years this year, expanding by 7.4 percent, as government stimulus measures fail to fully offset the drag from a sluggish housing market, a Reuters poll showed.

  • *Japan potential growth rate pushed down by lack of labour. Japan has the world's fastest-ageing society, which has pushed down its potential growth rate and reduced money flowing into the welfare system, Kuroda said.

  • British manufacturing emerges from years in the shadows Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 | 2:30 AM ET

    CHELTENHAM, England, July 24- New business is coming from unexpected places to help power the whirring, high-tech lathes on the factory floor of Future Advanced Manufacture, one of the companies spearheading Britain's manufacturing revival.

  • MOSCOW, July 24- Most of Vladimir Paley's clients want him to dig up their family history with one goal in mind: making a case to obtain foreign citizenship and leave Russia.

  • July 24- Electrocomponents Plc, a distributor of electronic products, said first-quarter underlying sales rose 3 percent, driven by strong international demand, particularly in North America and the Asia Pacific region. UK sales fell 2 percent.

  • TOKYO, July 24- Japan's Nikkei share average edged down on Thursday in choppy trade as investors awaited Japanese quarterly results, while geopolitical worries about Gaza curbed risk appetites, offsetting a strong private survey on Chinese manufacturing. The Nikkei ended 0.3 percent lower at 15,284.42 after trading in positive territory earlier.

  • French PM says euro too strong, EU must do more Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 | 2:18 AM ET

    PARIS, July 24- France's prime minister on Thursday called for the European Union to do more to help those member states carrying out reforms and reiterated France's views that the euro is overvalued.

  • *Tech stocks boosted by Apple, Facebook hit record high. The HSBC flash PMI for China came in at 52.0 for July, well above forecasts of a small rise to 51 in July and the highest reading in 18 months. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.2 percent, and Australia notched another six-year peak.

  • Finland's Outokumpu trims quarterly loss on cost cuts Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 | 2:11 AM ET

    HELSINKI, July 24- Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu on Thursday reported a smaller-than-expected underlying loss in the second quarter, helped by cost-cuts, but forecast a slighty bigger loss for the third quarter. Outokumpu trimmed its underlying operating loss to 6 million euros from 87 million euros in the same quarter a year earlier.