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  • PARIS, Feb 19- France is seeking to fend off the risk of EU sanctions over its budget deficit by telling the European Commission it will meet its structural deficit target this year, even if it means taking extra action to do so. "I want to reaffirm France's commitment to meeting in 2015 the structural adjustment effort of 0.5 percent of GDP foreseen by EU rules,"...

  • LONDON, Feb 19- The crisis in eastern Ukraine and concerns over Greece's future in the euro zone weighed on emerging markets on Thursday, with Russia racking up some of the biggest losses, though a weaker dollar and lower oil prices lent support to some. Yet investors remained concerned about the future of Greece in the euro zone and tension in eastern Ukraine,...

  • PRECIOUS-Gold gains as Fed's softer stance hurts dollar Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 5:45 AM ET

    LONDON, Feb 19- Gold rose on Thursday on a weaker dollar after minutes from January's Federal Reserve policy meeting showed officials expressed concern that raising interest rates too soon could damage the U.S. economic recovery. Spot prices had fallen to a six-week low of $1,197.56 on Wednesday, when hopes for a successful resolution to Greece's debt talks...

  • UPDATE 2-Nestle forecasts improvement in 2015 Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 5:38 AM ET

    *Working to fix North American frozen, China businesses. VEVEY, Switzerland, Feb 19- Nestle, the world's largest packaged foods maker, forecast sales growth around 5 percent this year, at the low end of its long-term goal, as it grapples with deflation in Europe and a slowdown in China. The goal includes improvements in margins, helped by cost savings and efforts to...

  • UPDATE 1-Adidas launches search for new CEO Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 5:25 AM ET

    *Adidas 2020 sales goal of 20 bln euros- magazine. BERLIN, Feb 19- The board of German sportswear company Adidas has launched a formal search for a successor to long-serving Chief Executive Herbert Hainer, who has faced calls from some investors to step down after his contract was extended to 2017.. "The supervisory board will now start to look for the best possible...

  • *Athens uses vital EU wording to request extension. ATHENS, Feb 19- Greece formally requested a six-month extension to its euro zone loan agreement on Thursday as it races to avoid running out of cash within weeks and overcome resistance from sceptical partners led by Germany. Specifically, Athens asked for an extension to its so-called "Master Financial...

  • ABU DHABI, Feb 19- International firms will scramble for new orders at the Middle East's largest arms show which opens in Abu Dhabi next week as oil-rich Gulf states load up on weapons in a region rocked by instability and violence. For the first time, a dedicated exhibition of unmanned systems with 33 exhibitors is being launched at IDEX. IDEX exhibitors include...

  • Bloomberg boosts funding of UK politics Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 5:01 AM ET

    LONDON, Feb 19- A company owned by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has almost doubled its political donations in the UK over the past four years, records of electoral donations show. Bloomberg TradeBook, a British-registered financial markets broker and research firm owned by U.S. financial information giant Bloomberg LP, gave money to all three...

  • LONDON, Feb 19- Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday it will review competition in investment banking and corporate banking services, citing "unanswered questions about potential conflicts of interest and value for money in this market." Personal accounts and small business banking is already the subject to a full investigation by...

  • BRUSSELS, Feb 19- Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, said on Thursday that Greece had asked for a "six-month extension" of its bailout agreement but he gave no details of the terms Athens requested. "Received Greek request for six months extension," Dijsselbloem said on Twitter without elaborating.

  • OSLO/ FRANKFURT, Feb 19- Norwegian fertiliser maker Yara and German chemicals firm BASF will spend $600 million building an ammonia plant in Texas, taking advantage of cheap shale gas to expand their presence in the United States, the companies said. Yara will own 68 percent of the project, to be built on BASF's industrial complex in Freeport, while the German firm...

  • Centrica, oil stocks lead European shares lower Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 4:37 AM ET

    *Centrica falls 7.9 pct as oil slump prompts writedowns. LONDON, Feb 19- European stocks edged off seven-year highs on Thursday after some disappointing updates from utility Centrica and airline Air France-KLM and as a slide in crude prices hit oil shares. Shares in Britain's other large power providers- EDF, SSE, Centrica, E.ON, RWE npower- also fell.

  • EUROGROUP PRESIDENT DIJSSELBLOEM SAYS HAS "RECEIVED GREEK REQUEST FOR SIX MONTHS EXTENSION" OF CREDIT.

  • Greek government denies considering capital controls Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 4:32 AM ET

    ATHENS, Feb 19- Greece's government is not considering capital controls to stem bank deposit outflows, the government spokesman told Reuters on Thursday, calling such a scenario "far from reality". Earlier, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing central bank sources, reported that the European Central Bank would feel more comfortable if Greece introduced...

  • LONDON, Feb 18- Sterling trade-weighted index hovered near a six-year high on Thursday, boosted by gains against the dollar as the interest rate gap between U.S. "If the market shifts its pricing in the next few months-- either re-pricing Fed rate expectations down, or bringing forward the expected timing of a UK rate hike-- sterling can easily get back above $1.60,"...

  • FRANKFURT, Feb 19- The European Central Bank on Thursday denied a report in a German newspaper that it would feel more comfortable if Greece introduced capital controls to stem the outflow of deposits from its banks. Responding to the report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which cited central bank sources, the ECB said the Governing Council of...

  • FOREX-Cautious Fed pours cold water on dollar Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 | 4:19 AM ET

    *Greece expected to ask for extension of loan agreement. LONDON, Feb 19- The dollar slipped on Thursday after minutes from January's Federal Reserve policy meeting showed officials were concerned that hiking interest rates too soon could damage the U.S. economic recovery. "The minutes were a bit on the dovish side compared to what the market was looking for so we...

  • PARIS, Feb 19- French consumer prices fell on an annual basis in January, their first decline in more than five years, data showed on Thursday, in another illustration of the challenge the European Central Bank faces in meeting its inflation target. But analysts said the risks of persistent deflation, which would prompt consumers and business to defer spending, in...

  • LONDON, Feb 19- Britain's financial watchdog will launch its first review of competition in investment banking and corporate banking services, saying the benefits of improvements could be high. The Financial Conduct Authority said that banks that were bundling and cross-selling their services could be making it difficult for new entrants to compete.

  • Negotiators from 12 Pacific nations hope to conclude talks on a Trans-Pacific Partnership within months, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said legislation known as trade promotion authority should pass soon, easing a major hurdle. The TPP pact would link 12 countries from the United States to Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and cover...