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  • *Experts say banks face write-downs of 20- 25 bln euros. MILAN, Feb 20- A drive by Italian banks to come clean on bad loans during a European bank health check may force them to raise as much as 20 billion euros in capital, three times more than that pencilled in so far, to shore up their balance sheets.

  • WASHINGTON, Feb 20- The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Thursday it was easing some of the reporting requirements for banks and investors under a global anti-tax evasion law due to take effect on July 1. The law requires foreign banks to share information about Americans' accounts of more than $50,000 with the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. tax agency.

  • Fresh from helping to crush a unionization drive at a Volkswagen AG plant in Tennessee, Norquist outlined an anti-union strategy that ties labor to liberals, with the long-term goal of sapping union financial support for Democrats.

  • UPDATE 3-Mail.Ru and Yandex may dual list in Moscow Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 | 11:59 AM ET

    MOSCOW, Feb 20- Russian Internet companies Mail.Ru and Yandex may seek to list their shares in Moscow to add to primary listings in London and New York, they said on Thursday. London- listed Mail.Ru' s chief financial officer Matthew Hammond said the company plans to list its shares in Moscow in the near future.

  • Wilmar to buy stake in India's Shree Renuka Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 | 11:37 AM ET

    MUMBAI, Feb 20- Singapore's Wilmar International has agreed to invest up to $145 million for a stake in India's Shree Renuka Sugars, giving it a foothold in the world's biggest sugar- consuming market. India is the world's second-biggest sugar producer after Brazil, where Shree Renuka has a division.

  • *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.

  • *Puma will not abandon Cambodia, Bangladesh despite problems. HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, Feb 20- German sportswear firm Puma SE is looking to produce more goods closer to customers in Europe and the Americas, but will not abandon Asia in the next few years despite rising labour costs and political unrest, its chief executive said.

  • NEW YORK, Feb 20- U.S. stocks and the dollar mostly rose on Thursday on data showing that U.S. factory activity accelerated in February at its fastest pace in nearly four years, but economic surveys showing a soft patch in China and parts of Europe dragged on global equity markets.

  • Wanted: 100 mln euros for new Irish bank Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 | 11:18 AM ET

    *Italy, Spain and Germany next if it succeeds in Ireland. DUBLIN, Feb 20- Wanted- investors willing to pump 100 million euros into a new European bank that picked Ireland as its first market.

  • LONDON, Feb 20- The London Metal Exchange risks having to repeat arduous preparations it made for reform of its global warehouse system if Russian aluminium giant Rusal wins a British judicial review on grounds including human rights.

  • E-cig industry on tenterhooks ahead of U.S. regulation Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 | 11:12 AM ET

    WASHINGTON, Feb 20- Lobbyists for electronic cigarette companies have been beating a path to the White House, hoping to prevent the administration from imposing strict, and possibly costly, rules on the burgeoning $2 billion industry.

  • WASHINGTON, Feb 20- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will testify before U.S. lawmakers on Feb. 27 after a Senate panel previously canceled the original hearing date due to a recent snowstorm in Washington, D.C.. She will face the Senate Banking Committee at 10:00 a.m. on Feb. 27, the committee said.

  • BRASILIA, Feb 20- Brazil set a more modest fiscal savings target for 2014 on Thursday in a bid to recover investors' credibility, but markets remain skeptical that President Dilma Rousseff will be able to deliver in an election year.

  • European shares retreat from 4-week high on poor data Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 | 11:05 AM ET

    *Miners slip on disappointing China data. The market trimmed losses in afternoon trading after data showed U.S. manufacturing activity accelerated in February at its fastest pace in nearly four years, but overall sentiment remained fragile after poor data from China, France and U.S. mid-Atlantic region.

  • *China Feb manufacturing activity slowest in 7 mths- HSBC. LONDON, Feb 20- Brent crude slipped towards $110 a barrel on Thursday after economic data pointed to slower growth in China, the world's second-largest oil consumer.

  • TORONTO, Feb 20- Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc reported weaker-than-expected results on Thursday, hurt by slowing growth, but its stock jumped as it hiked its dividend and made plans to buy back up to C $440 million in shares.

  • *Cuts 2015 earnings/share forecast to $3.40- $3.70 vs $3.80- $4.00. *Estimates fourth-quarter adjusted earnings/share $0.75- $0.80 vs est $0.93. Woodlands, Texas- based Conn's operates 79 stores in Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma and New Mexico, catering mainly to lower income shoppers.

  • *China's February flash PMI drops to 7- month low. LONDON, Feb 20- Copper slipped to a one-week low on Thursday after the euro weakened and data showed a contraction in China's manufacturing sector, which raised doubts about the outlook for demand from the metal's top consumer.

  • *Tesla shares soar after results, Wal-Mart falls. *Facebook shares drop; will buy WhatsApp for $19 bln. NEW YORK, Feb 20- U.S. stocks edged higher in volatile trading on Thursday, as a strong read on manufacturing offset weak results from Wal-Mart and geopolitical and economic uncertainty around the world.

  • *80 pct of Swiss gold exports head for Asia- data. LONDON, Feb 20- Gold firmed on Thursday, after two sessions of falls that pulled it back from 3-1/ 2 month highs, as a retreat in stock markets due to weak French and Chinese data boosted its appeal as an alternative asset.