WASHINGTON, July 30- U.S. economic growth was far stronger than previously estimated in the second half of 2013, which could help to explain a sharp drop in the unemployment rate during the period.» Read More
BERLIN, Feb 20- Stronger-than-expected growth among service providers drove a faster expansion in Germany's private sector in February, a survey showed, in a sign Europe's largest economy is gaining momentum and continues to drive a regional recovery. "Germany is positively surging," said Chris Williamson at Markit.
Feb 20- A single ticket bought in the San Francisco bay area scooped the sixth highest lottery jackpot in U.S. history on Wednesday, winning roughly $425 million, lottery officials said.
HONG KONG, Feb 20- China's largest Internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd and online retailer JD.com are in talks to combine their e-commerce business, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday, confirming earlier media reports.
KIEV, Feb 20- Ukrainian protesters seized back Kiev's Independence Square in fresh clashes with riot police on Thursday that left several injured and possibly two demonstrators dead. The violence came after a truce declared late on Wednesday by President Viktor Yanukovich, who was due to meet the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland shortly in Kiev.
PARIS, Feb 20- European shares dropped in early trade on Thursday following data showing a slide in China's factory activity and in France's service sector. China's flash Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index fell to a seven-month low of 48.3 in February from January's final reading of 49.5, sparking a sell-off in Asian shares.
FRANKFURT, Feb 20- European chemicals and plastics makers are cutting in-house research and instead trying to persuade industrial customers to work together on developing running shoes, cars or electronics. Solvay is developing polymer linings for corroded pipelines with an oil major while Lanxess is helping VW unit Skoda make car parts.
TOKYO, Feb 20- Japanese government bond prices rose on Thursday with the 10- year benchmark yield hitting a three-month low, after soft Chinese manufacturing data reinforced concerns over a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
HONG KONG, Feb 20- Hong Kong shares posted their biggest loss in more than two weeks on Thursday, led by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings on fears of greater competition after Facebook announced its purchase of mobile messaging startup WhatsApp. The Hang Seng Index finished down 1.2 percent at 22,394.1 points in its largest single day loss since Feb. 4.
KIEV, Feb 20- Ukrainian anti-government protesters on Thursday seized back control of Kiev's Independence Square, television pictures showed, after fresh clashes broke out there with riot police. TV pictures showed protesters surging forward into areas that were on Wednesday occupied by riot police after a day of violence.
SYDNEY, Feb 20- London copper dropped to a one-week low on Thursday after a preliminary survey of China's manufacturing sector showed it contracted in February, although analysts said the Lunar New Year break was partly responsible for the bleak reading.
*Gold to hover above $1,307- technicals. SINGAPORE, Feb 20- Gold edged up in choppy trade on Thursday as the U.S. dollar gave up gains, while demand from the physical sector also underpinned prices. Gold hit a low of $1,308.34 an ounce on a firmer dollar before rising as high as $1,314.70 as the U.S. currency changed course.
*China Feb manufacturing activity slowest in 7 mths- HSBC. SINGAPORE, Feb 20- Brent crude slid below $110 a barrel on Thursday, dragged down by a survey that pointed to slower growth in China, the world's second largest oil consumer.
MOSCOW, Feb 20- Eurasia Drilling Company, Russia's largest provider of onshore drilling services, will buy back global depository receipts worth up to $200 million in the six months starting from April 2, it said on Thursday. The company did not give a reason for the move. Since then, Eurasia's GDRs have lost a quarter of their value to trade at $28.30 on Thursday.
DUBAI, Feb 20- Hollywood has missed out since Saudi Arabia banned cinemas in the 1970 s, but residents may soon get to see movies at home on the same day as their release elsewhere in the Gulf in a new service promised by Saudi Telecom Co.
SEOUL, Feb 20- South Korea has stepped up disinfection of citizens returning from North Korea after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in pigs in the communist state.
*Government supporters plan rally for Sunday. BANGKOK, Feb 20- Protesters campaigning for months to oust Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra turned their anger on businesses linked to her wealthy family on Thursday, rallying outside the offices of a property developer whose shares fell 5 percent.
HONG KONG, Feb 20- Shanghai shares slipped from a two-month high on Thursday, as a weak private survey of February manufacturing activity outweighed robust gains for Sinopec Corp stemming from the first signs of reform at a state-owned enterprise. The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings shed 0.9 percent.
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*Shin group, AIS, Thaicom shares also fall for second day. BANGKOK, Feb 20- Shares in companies linked to the family of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra fell on Thursday after anti-government protesters launched online campaigns to boycott goods and services connected to these firms.
TOKYO, Feb 20- Asian stocks tumbled on Thursday and the yen firmed as a survey painted a grim picture of China's manufacturing sector, heightening uncertainty about the outlook for the region's economic powerhouse.