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TOKYO, April 25- Kobe Steel Ltd, Japan's No.3 steelmaker, said its crude steel output hit a 6- year peak in the business year just ended and that production this year would be similar due to robust domestic demand.
KIEV, April 25- Ukraine is pressing on with its operation against pro-Russian rebels in the east and has ample military resources to keep up the offensive round the clock, the interior minister said on Friday.
BEIJING, April 25- China shares dropped 1 percent on Friday and suffered their worst week since early January, as concerns about market liquidity hurt investor sentiment after Guanghui Energy became the first mainland firm to announce plans to issue preferred shares.
LONDON, April 25- European shares fell on Friday, led lower by a drop in Germany's DAX index, as new signs of violence in Ukraine weighed on stock markets which had been buoyed this week by corporate takeover activity.
*Coal tops the list for deaths in energy sector. *Coal also a major polluter. Coal mining is responsible for more fatalities than the production of any other energy source due to poor working conditions in export countries such as China, South Africa, Indonesia and Colombia.
BANGALORE, April 25- Prospects for a strong economic rebound in India are dim as industry remains weak, and although a business-friendly opposition party looks likely to form a new government, its ability to pass sweeping reforms is in doubt, a Reuters poll showed.
*Extent of China slowdown a key risk factor. Much will depend on how China- the world's second-largest economy- performs. The consensus from over 200 economists polled April 15-24 was for growth in economies from China to India, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand to be steady and near last year's largely lacklustre levels.
SYDNEY, April 25- Australia's economy is expected to slowly gather speed over the next couple of years as strength in housing and exports works to offset the drag from a maturing mining boom.
BEIJING, April 25- China's economy is expected to slow further this year, as Beijing continues to make reforms its top priority and rules out major stimulus to spur short-term growth, a Reuters poll showed.
*Ukraine forces kill up to 5 rebels; Russia starts drill near border. SINGAPORE, April 25- Brent futures held near seven-week highs above $110 a barrel on Friday as escalating tensions over Ukraine between top oil producer Russia and the West worsened supply disruption fears.
LONDON, April 25- WPP, the world's largest advertising group, reported a much better than expected 7 percent rise in first quarter like-for-like revenue growth and said it had seen a surge in new client wins due to changes in the industry.
BEIJING, April 25- The founders of Chinese internet company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd have set up a charitable trust focusing on the environment and health that could be worth as much as $3 billion, making it one of the biggest in Asia.
MOSCOW, April 25- Credit agency Standard& Poor's cut Russia's foreign currency sovereign ratings on Friday, in a move that underscores risks from President Vladimir Putin's policy of intervention in Ukraine.
TOKYO, April 25- Mazda Motor Corp forecast an 18 percent rise in net profit for the year to next March, aiming for a second year in a row of record earnings as a weaker yen bolsters the export-oriented automaker's business.
SHANGHAI/ BEIJING, April 25- China's yuan hit a 16- month low for the third straight day on Friday, shrugging off a stronger fixing by the central bank to weaken firmly below a key psychological support level on strong corporate dollar demand.
LONDON, April 25- WPP, the world's largest advertising group, reported first quarter like-for-like revenue growth of 7 percent, much better than expected, and said it had seen a surge in new business wins due to changes in the industry.
TOKYO, April 25- Tokyo's Nikkei edged up on Friday, helped by a slightly lower-than-expected inflation print for April which reinforced some hopes for further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan. The Nikkei's gains were limited by weakness in other Asian bourses, notably Chinese shares, and as investors cut positions ahead of the weekend.
April 25- Bank of America Corp's former finance chief, Joe Price, has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit that accused the bank and its former executives of misleading investors during the lender's acquisition of Merrill Lynch, the Wall Street Journal reported.
TOKYO, April 25- Japan's Dai-ichi Life won't buy domestic bonds if their yields stay at current low levels and it instead plans to allocate more funds on foreign bonds in the year to March, a senior company official said on Friday.
MILAN, April 25- Fitch Ratings on Friday affirmed Italy's sovereign rating at' BBB+' but raised its outlook to stable, saying a deep recession in the country had ended and funding conditions had improved markedly. Fitch said this and Italy's weak growth prospects were among key factors behind the current rating level.