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  • LONDON, March 26- Gold rallied to a 3-1/ 2 week high on Thursday and silver rose nearly 3 percent as escalating tensions in the Middle East knocked stocks and the dollar and drove investors into assets seen as lower risk, like bullion and German bonds. European stocks tumbled 1.3 percent, the dollar fell and oil prices leapt 6 percent after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf...

  • HONG KONG/ SHANGHAI, March 26- China's Bank of Communications Co Ltd, said on Thursday its bad loan ratio rose to 1.25 percent, its highest level since 2010, as the lender grappled with borrowers' increasing inability to repay debt in China's slowing economy. The result compared with the 13.9 billion yuan average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

  • MOSCOW, March 26- Russia's top lender Sberbank said its profit fell 20 percent last year, hit by a steep rise in its loan-loss provisions due to an economic crisis. The bank's funding costs also jumped due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia- which limit its access to international capital markets- and central bank rate rises, while its profitability slipped...

  • Russia says to restructure loans to Belarus Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 | 6:39 AM ET

    MOSCOW, March 26- Russia said on Thursday it would restructure some of its loans to Belarus, whose economy has been hurt by a weaker Russian rouble. The former Soviet republic has a record $4 billion in debt payments this year, mostly to Russia and the International Monetary Fund. Belarus has also asked the International Monetary Fund for a financial package, in...

  • FRANKFURT, March 26- Were Greece to leave the euro zone, there would be little contagion and it would probably be manageable for the euro zone, Federal Reserve policymaker James Bullard said on Thursday. "If they left the euro, it would be a very dark day for Greece," said St. "I don't think there would be much contagion...

  • MOSCOW, March 26- Russia will give sanctions-hit Rosselkhozbank 10 billion roubles of additional capital as part of the country's anti-crisis plan, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday. "Our banks' access to overseas markets of liquidity is essentially closed and our task is to minimise the influence of these problems on the banking system,"...

  • MILAN, March 26- Italy's Saipem is close to signing a joint venture with a big local partner in Nigeria just days after clinching a similar deal in China with PetroChina as the oil contractor seeks access to new markets. Saipem, 43 percent owned by Italian oil major Eni, has seen some 10 billion euros wiped off its market value over the past two years after two profit...

  • BERLIN, March 26- European Union regulators plan a year-long investigation into ecommerce to help remove barriers to cross-border trade in the 28- nation bloc, the EU's antitrust chief said on Thursday. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said she decided to launch the inquiry because such hurdles were hampering the growth of online...

  • TOKYO, March 26- New Bank of Japan board member Yutaka Harada said on Thursday it is difficult, and even impossible, to consider the central bank's 2 percent inflation target and the two-year timeframe for achieving it as "rigid" goals. "Various things happen in the economy, so it's hard and even impossible to consider the 2 percent inflation target and the two-year...

  • TOKYO, March 26- Japanese electronics supplier Panasonic Corp said it was ready to spend 1 trillion yen on acquisitions over the next four years, emboldened by a stronger profit outlook for its automotive and housing technology businesses. Chief Executive Kazuhiro Tsuga said at a briefing on Thursday that Panasonic doesn't have specific acquisition...

  • JERUSALEM, March 26- The Bank of Israel is studying expansionary steps taken by other central banks such as quantitative easing and will implement similar measures if needed, its governor said in an interview with the magazine of Israel's banking association. The Bank of Israel on Monday held its benchmark interest rate at 0.1 percent, citing a weaker shekel...

  • By Manolo Serapio Jr SINGAPORE, March 26- Stocks of imported iron ore at ports in China, the world's biggest consumer, have stuck at or below the 100 million tonne mark since the start of the year. Iron ore stockpiles at Chinese mills and domestic mines have similarly declined, Citigroup said. But in the iron ore market, the typical inverse relationship between...

  • European shares fall sharply, LSE and tech stocks weigh Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 | 5:35 AM ET

    LONDON, March 26- European shares fell on Thursday, with London Stock Exchange leading the market lower on news Borse Dubai will sell its full stake in the company and ARM Holdings extending the previous session's steep losses. London Stock Exchange shares fell 10 percent after a source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Borse Dubai, the LSE's...

  • PARIS, March 26- France cut its budget deficit target for this year on Thursday and said economic growth could beat the government's 1 percent forecast, after reporting a smaller-than-expected fiscal gap for 2014.. Finance Minister Michel Sapin said France, which has repeatedly missed its fiscal targets, is confident it will finally bring the deficit below an...

  • *Oil rises on fears of Middle East supply disruption. LONDON, March 26- Crude prices rose as much as 6 percent on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and its allies launched air strikes on Yemen, pushing shares lower in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and lifting oil producers' currencies. "Oil is having a nice move after more geopolitical tensions in the Middle East over...

  • *Adidas to allow in-store product customisation. HERZOGENAURACH, Germany, March 26- German sportswear firm Adidas announced plans to revolutionise the way it manufactures goods to speed up production and allow more customisation of goods to help it accelerate sales and profit growth in the next five years. Adidas said it would focus marketing on six big...

  • FOREX-Yen, franc surge on Saudi worries, dollar weakens Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 | 5:20 AM ET

    LONDON, March 26- The dollar sank to a five-week low against the yen on Thursday, hit by the combination of another round of poor U.S. data and a bid for traditional safe havens by investors worried about stock markets and oil supplies out of the Middle East. News that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies had launched air strikes against Iran- allied forces in Yemen...

  • ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV CLOSE TO NOMINATING JAB HOLDING CEO OLIVIER GOUDET AS NEXT CHAIRMAN-SOURCES.

  • LONDON/ NEW YORK, March 26- Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, is close to proposing JAB Holding Chief Executive Olivier Goudet as its next chairman, according to four sources familiar with the matter. Goudet, born in 1964, has served as chief financial officer of US confectionery giant Mars Inc. Since June 2012, he has been partner and CEO of JAB...

  • Commodity trader Louis Dreyfus posts higher 2014 profit Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 | 5:07 AM ET

    PARIS, March 26- Global trading group Louis Dreyfus Commodities B.V. reported a rise in full-year profit on Thursday as increased volumes and healthy processing margins helped offset lower market prices. Louis Dreyfus is one of the "ABCD" quartet of companies- alongside Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill- that dominates agricultural commodity trading.