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  • LONDON, July 31- AstraZeneca smashed forecasts for second-quarter sales and earnings on Thursday, demonstrating resilience after seeing off a $118 billion takeover approach from rival drugmaker Pfizer two months ago.

  • MOSCOW, July 31- Russia's second largest oil producer Lukoil said on Thursday it had agreed to sell 240 filling stations and six petroleum storage facilities in Ukraine to Austria's AMIC Energy Management GmbH to "optimise its asset structure".

  • Swiss central bank reports $17.7BN half-year gain Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 2:12 AM ET

    GENEVA— Switzerland's central bank is reporting a profit of 16.1 billion Swiss francs for the first half of the year, a big turnaround from its loss of 9 billion francs for 2013.. The Swiss National Bank says the profit in its half-year results is largely based on gains in the gold, foreign exchange and capital markets.

  • MOSCOW, July 31- Russian stock indexes rose strongly on Thursday after the European Commission published a new list of individuals and companies subject to sanctions over Ukraine but spared major listed companies. At 0603 GMT, the dollar-denominated RTS index was up 1.3 percent to 1,238 points, while the rouble-based MICEX rose 0.8 percent to 1,393 points.

  • PARIS, July 31- French logistics group Norbert Dentressangle said on Thursday it would acquire U.S.-based Jacobson Companies from private equity fund Oak Hill Capital Partners in a deal worth $750 million. It will be funded through Norbert Dentressangle reserves and available credit lines and is expected to close mid-September.

  • RPT-FACTBOX-Google under European regulatory spotlight Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 2:00 AM ET

    July 30- Google Inc faces a variety of challenges from European Commission regulators, in contrast to its experience in the United States where the Internet search company has largely mitigated regulatory threats.

  • BANGALORE, July 31- The Reserve Bank of India is likely to leave its key interest rate unchanged on August 5 and won't ease policy until early next year on fears food inflation will spike if monsoon rains are below average, according to a Reuters poll.

  • ZURICH, July 31- Swiss bank Credit Suisse on Thursday became the latest major European bank to say it was caught up in an investigation into alternative trading venues known as dark pools.

  • BUENOS AIRES, July 31- Argentina defaulted for the second time in 12 years after hopes for a midnight deal with holdout creditors were dashed, setting up stock and bond prices for declines on Thursday and raising chances a recession could worsen this year.

  • Carrefour H1 profits up as Brazil, Europe improve Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 1:44 AM ET

    PARIS, July 31- Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer, reported a 13.8 percent rise in first-half recurring operating profit to 833 million euros, driven by higher profitability in its core French business and in Brazil and Argentina, while China stayed under pressure.

  • July 30- Journal Communications Inc. and E.W. Scripps agreed to merge broadcast operations and spin off their newspaper businesses into a new publicly traded entity, the media companies said late on Wednesday. The newly formed newspaper entity would combine Scripps' newspapers in 13 markets with Journal Communications' flagship Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • *Asia's Iran imports rise 31 pct y/y to 1 mln bpd in June. TOKYO, July 31- Iran's biggest clients took in a quarter more oil in the first six months of 2014 than in the same period of last year, with China and India holding to the higher volumes they started after the agreement that relaxed Western sanctions on Tehran.

  • July 31- Target Corp is hiring PepsiCo Inc executive Brian Cornell as its new chief executive, the Wall Street Journal reported. Cornell, who has spent nearly a decade at PepsiCo, was a contender to succeed PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, the newspaper reported. Target and Pepsi did not immediately respond to emails seeking comments.

  • *OPEC oil output rises in July from June- Reuters survey. SINGAPORE, July 31- Brent crude slipped towards $106 a barrel on Thursday and was set to post its biggest monthly loss in more than a year as higher OPEC output and disappointing demand in the United States outweighed tensions in the Middle East and Africa.

  • Homeowner who triumphed over Trump is moving on Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 1:02 AM ET

    The woman who became a folk hero for resisting decades-long efforts by big-name developers like Trump to displace her Atlantic City boardinghouse is now 91 and, apparently, the victor. Vera Coking has moved to California to be near her family.

  • SAN FRANCISCO, July 31- Seattle audio and video technician Todd Mueller showed up last year for what might have been a routine job except for one thing: Amazon.com Inc was taking notes. Amazon's experiment with services goes back to at least mid-2012 in its hometown of Seattle.

  • SHANGHAI, July 31- Chinese fund managers said they would raise the proportion of their portfolios invested in stocks over the next three months, following June's upward trend, amid hopes that China's economy is stabilizing, according to a Reuters poll.

  • U.S. fine tips BNP Paribas into second-quarter loss Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 1:00 AM ET

    PARIS, July 31- BNP Paribas turned in a second-quarter loss on Thursday, reflecting the cost of an $8.95 billion fine for breaking U.S. sanctions, but the French bank said its strong underlying result was a sign clients had not been scared off by the affair.

  • *China Resources Land extends gains after Barclays upgrade. HONG KONG, July 31- Hong Kong and China shares, on track for their best month since 2012, had choppy trading in reduced volumes on Thursday as investors remained cautious ahead. The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong fell 0.4 percent.

  • July 31- A group of World Trade Organization members has informally discussed adopting a global overhaul of customs rules without India if New Delhi goes ahead with threats to block the deal, sources familiar with the talks said on Thursday.