TOKYO— Hello Kitty, whom many learned last week is a girl and not a cat, may be the queen of Japan's cute characters, but she's hardly the only one. Characters are not just for kids in Japan, but a part of business and social life.» Read More
*Total moves staff from Tripoli; Sonatrach withdraws staff from Libya. *Statoil shuts Snorre B platform in North Sea after oil leak. LONDON, May 20- Brent oil held steady above $109 a barrel on Tuesday, as unrest and low output in OPEC exporter Libya offset downward pressure from expectations of a weekly build in U.S. crude stocks to a record high.
*Investors warily eye Thailand martial law declaration. LONDON, May 20- European shares and southern European bonds made tentative progress on Tuesday, as expectations the European Central Bank will provide fresh support in coming weeks helped counter uncertainty over European Union elections.
BERLIN, May 20- German exports to Russia slid 13 percent in the first quarter of the year, led by sharp falls in cars and machinery, as the Ukraine crisis pushed the rouble currency down to record lows. The Russian rouble sank to record lows in February and March on fears of the economic fallout from Russia's standoff with the West over Ukraine.
PARIS, May 20- French nuclear group Areva could be interested in a deal for Alstom's wind turbines unit, its CEO said on Tuesday, while adding Areva was not directly involved in talks over the possible sale of Alstom's energy business.
HONG KONG, May 20- Hong Kong's benchmark index rose to a five-week closing high on Tuesday, helped by China Mobile after a broker upgrade pushed shares of the telecom giant to their highest since January. The Hang Seng Index ended up 0.6 percent at 22,834.68 points, its highest close since April 14.
FRANKFURT, May 20- Commerzbank is in the final stages of selling a portfolio of Spanish property loans for up to 3.9 billion euros to JP Morgan and private equity firm Lone Star, sources close to the matter said on Tuesday. One of the sources said that Lone Star would be taking on a team of roughly 25 people from Commerzbank as part of the deal, to help manage the loans.
Other majors were back in tight ranges, although some players said the euro was again looking shaky after two weeks of hints of more monetary easing by the European Central Bank which have shaken bets the single currency would top $1.40.
SINGAPORE, May 20- Rubber prices are likely to struggle near multi-year lows in the short-term, hurt by worries over China's economy and Thailand's plan to make huge sales from its state stockpiles, an industry body said on Tuesday.
LONDON, May 20- Yields on the euro zone's lower-rated bonds inched lower on Tuesday, but stayed well above their record lows as investors grew nervous about the outcome of this week's European elections. But political fears have clearly come to the surface, "said Nick Stamenkovic, a bond strategist at RIA Capital Markets.
SHANGHAI, May 20- China and Russia have not yet clinched a price agreement on a long-awaited multi-billion dollar gas supply contract, a Russian government official said on Tuesday, amid growing urgency for the Kremlin to seal a deal as it comes under pressure from Western nations over the crisis in Ukraine.
ZURICH, May 20- Credit Suisse Chief Executive Brady Dougan said on Tuesday he remained "very committed" to the Swiss bank and had never considered stepping down. Dougan was speaking on a call with analysts and reporters after the U.S. government announced that his bank had agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine after pleading guilty to helping Americans evade taxes.
LONDON, May 20- European shares steadied on Tuesday following losses in the previous three sessions, with telecom company Vodafone falling after saying its core earnings would fall in 2015 due to the investment needed in the business. National benchmark indices in U.K., France and Germany were trading flat to 0.1 percent higher.
HONG KONG, May 20- China shares lingered at three-week lows on Tuesday, as continued losses in the beverage sector offset most gains from financial and energy counters. The CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings finished flat.
*Gold edges down below $1,300 an ounce. SINGAPORE, May 20- Platinum was steady on Tuesday, holding on to overnight gains as labour strikes in top producer South Africa continued for a 17th week, disrupting supply of about 40 percent of the metal's global output.
LONDON, May 20- Britain's Vodafone said core earnings would fall in 2015 due to the investment needed in the business as it recorded impairments of 6.6 billion pounds due to fierce competition and regulatory changes in Europe.
SHANGHAI, May 20- Russia has offered to scrap extraction taxes for gas supplies designated for China, while Beijing is also looking to abolish import taxes for Russian gas, Russia's top oil producer Rosneft said on Tuesday. "We are talking about deposits that will be a source for gas supplies to China market.
*Investors warily eye Thailand martial law declaration. TOKYO, May 20- Asian shares slipped on Tuesday despite a solid performance on Wall Street, while the dollar wallowed close to its lowest level against the yen in more than three months.
LONDON, May 20- Britain's Vodafone said its core earnings would fall in 2015 due to the investment needed in the business as it reported 2014 results in line with forecasts, helped by an improvement in underlying trading in the fourth quarter.
SHANGHAI, May 20- China and Russia have not yet reached a price agreement on a long-awaited gas supply contract and talks are still continuing between both parties, the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.
TOKYO, May 20- Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Tuesday, snapping a four-day losing streak supported by a slightly weakening yen, while Yahoo Japan Corp soared after dropping its plan to buy mobile network operator eAccess Ltd from SoftBank Corp. The Nikkei rose 0.5 percent to 14,075.25 points.