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  • MOSCOW, March 20- President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russian companies must be registered in Russia and have a transparent ownership structure, emphasising one of his main messages that business should be brought back home. The European Union warned of ramping up punitive measures against Russia, including politically sensitive economic sanctions.

  • *EU leaders to discuss Russia, Ukraine, energy at two-day summit. BRUSSELS, March 20- European leaders hold critical talks on Thursday about how to tighten the screws on Russia following its seizure of Crimea, how to support Ukraine's stricken economy and how best to wean themselves off Russian oil and gas in years to come.

  • March 20- Lennar Corp reported a 36 percent jump in quarterly profit as it sold more homes at higher prices but said it was too soon to predict the strength of the spring selling season. Lennar's shares rose about 3.5 percent in premarket trading.

  • LONDON, March 20- Copper slid on Thursday, giving up the previous day's gains, as investors worried about the prospect of U.S. interest rates increasing earlier than expected and about a credit squeeze in top consumer China. "The base metals prices are on a rollercoaster ride, especially copper," said analyst Daniel Briesemann at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

  • HONG KONG, March 20- A Hong Kong stock market index tracking mainland enterprises has fallen more than 20 percent since the start of December, far outpacing a drop in the broader benchmark and signaling that investors are worried about the outlook for the Chinese economy. On Thursday, Hong Kong- listed stocks were hurt by the signal overnight from the U.S.

  • NORWEGIAN SHIP REACHES AREA IN SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN WHERE DEBRIS FROM MALAYSIA PLANE MAY HAVE BEEN SPOTTTED.

  • PRECIOUS-Gold hits three-week lows after Fed comments Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 6:44 AM ET

    *Gold extends losses after falling 1.8 pct on Thursday. LONDON, March 20- Gold hit three-week lows on Thursday after posting its biggest one-day fall since late January in the previous session, reacting to comments from Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen suggesting U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than expected.

  • RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN SAYS RUSSIAN COMPANIES MUST BE REGISTERED IN RUSSIA, BE TRANSPARENT.

  • *MAGE-A3 fails to hit goal in Phase III lung cancer trial. March 20- An experimental cancer vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline has failed in a second test- this time against lung cancer- but the British company said it still hoped to identify a sub-group of patients in which it would work.

  • MUMBAI, March 20- Toyota Motor Corp's Indian unit said on Thursday it had suspended some workers for misconduct at its domestic plants, which have been closed since Sunday over a pay dispute.

  • March 20- Business research and information firm IHS Inc reported better-than-expected first-quarter results, helped by contract wins in its non-subscription businesses.

  • BERLIN, March 20- European leaders will show they are ready to ramp up punitive measures against Russia, including politically sensitive economic sanctions, at a summit starting on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German parliament.

  • *U.S. stockpiles rise more than expected; fall at Cushing hub. LONDON, March 20- Brent crude oil eased on Thursday after the U.S. "The Fed's move came as something of a surprise in terms of the timing for increasing rates," said Olivier Jakob, an analyst at Petromatrix in Zug, Switzerland.

  • HONG KONG, March 20- China's yuan plunged to its weakest levels against the dollar in more than a year on Thursday as investors increased selling having interpreted signals from the central bank that it was comfortable with the fall.

  • BRUSSELS, March 20- European policymakers agreed on Thursday to complete a banking union with an agency to shut failing euro zone banks but there will be no euro zone backstop for the new fund to help cover the costs of such closures.

  • TOKYO, March 20- Japan stands ready to unleash further monetary and fiscal stimulus as needed to support the economy if the impact of a coming sales tax hike proves worse than expected, a senior government official said on Thursday.

  • Britain sets out Europe's energy alternatives to Russia Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 5:16 AM ET

    BRUSSELS, March 20- Europe has a range of options to shore up its energy security and cut dependence on Russian supplies, including asking the United States to export more gas and working with Iraq, a British government document says.

  • *China's yuan skids to its lowest in a year. LONDON, March 20- The dollar steadied at higher levels on Thursday and stocks and bonds fell across the globe as investors positioned for U.S. interest rates to rise sooner and faster than previously thought.

  • TOKYO, March 20- A torrent of foreign capital into Japanese shares, the driving force behind last year's surge, has reversed, as impatience with "Abenomics" made Tokyo one of the worst-performing markets since the start of 2014. The first two arrows in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy quiver- huge government spending and unprecedented monetary easing- drove the Tokyo market up 57 percent in 2013. But foreign investors are growing tired of waiting for the third arrow, structural reform for long-term growth.

  • Profit growth slows sharply at China's state firms Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 | 5:01 AM ET

    BEIJING, March 20- Annual profit growth at China's state firms slowed sharply to 2.8 percent in the first two months of 2014, official data showed on Thursday, adding to signs that the world's second-largest economy is faltering in the first quarter.