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September 18, 2014 / 9:11 AM / 3 years ago

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TOP STORIES

Bets for volatile pound soar as Scotland votes

LONDON - Financial investors step up hedging against sharp fluctuations over the next 24 hours in the value of Britain’s pound as Scots begin to vote in a referendum on independence that polls suggest is too close to call. (MARKETS-FOREX/STERLING (UPDATE 1), moved, by Anirban Nag, 450 words)

ECB dishes out first new ultra-long loans to boost lending

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank hand outs the first of its new four-year loans, the flagship tool in a stimulus package it hopes will stave off price deflation and revive the ailing euro zone economy. (ECB-FUNDING/ (UPDATE 1), expect by 0930 GMT/5.30 AM ET, by Eva Taylor, 600 words)

Dollar hits 6-year peak on yen, ECB aims cash hose

LONDON - The dollar vaults to a six-year peak on the yen as the Federal Reserve’s outlook for rising rates underlines the diverging path between the United states and the rest of the rich world. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 4), moved, by Marc Jones, 880 words)

+ See also:

- USA-FED/ (WRAPUP 5, PICTURE, TV), moved, by Michael Flaherty and Howard Schneider, 800 words)

Alibaba set to price IPO shares amid investor frenzy

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is set to sell some $22 billion of shares, capping a two-week road show that drew frenzied interest from investors worldwide and may be the world’s largest ever initial public offering. (ALIBABA-IPO/PRICING, moved, 470 words)

ECONOMY

Russia to pass toughest budget in years as sanctions bite

MOSCOW - Russia’s government will approve its toughest budget in years, relying on optimistic forecasts for oil prices at a time when borrowing abroad to cover any deficit slippage will be tough due to tightening Western sanctions. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/RUSSIA-BUDGET, expect by 1200 GMT/8 AM ET, by Lidia Kelly, 400 words)

EBRD warns of erosion of post-Cold War “peace dividend”

LONDON - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development warns the crisis with Russia and Ukraine could erode some of the “peace dividend” eastern Europe gained when the Cold War ended. (EBRD-RUSSIA/, moved, by Marc Jones, 575 words)

Japan’s frail business mood, exports show economic strain

TOKYO - Confidence at Japanese manufacturers fell the most in nearly two years in September as a tax increase hit the economy harder than expected, while exports slid in August in a further sign that conditions have deteriorated in the crucial third quarter. (JAPAN-ECONOMY/TANKAN (WRAPUP), moved, by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Stanley White, 825 words)

+ See also:

- JAPAN-ECONOMY/TRADE (UPDATE 2), moved, by Stanley White, 550 words

SNB keeps cap on franc, ready to take further measures

ZURICH - The Swiss National Bank keeps its cap on the franc at 1.20 per euro, reiterating its commitment to defend the limit with currency intervention and to take further measures immediately if necessary. (SWISS-SNB/RATES (UPDATE 2), expect by 1100 GMT/7 AM ET, 450 words)

UK retail sales recover after stagnant July

LONDON - British retail sales growth recovered last month after stagnating in July, driven by strong sales of furniture and a rush to buy high-powered vacuum cleaners, official data shows. (BRITAIN ECONOMY/, moved, 370 words)

China home prices fall for fourth straight month in August

BEIJING - China home prices fell in August for a fourth straight month, official data shows, underlining a deepening downtrend in the property market that is increasingly weighing on the broad economy. (CHINA-PROPERTY/PRICES (UPDATE 2), moved, by Xiaoyi Shao and Koh Gui Qing, 835 words)

+ See also:

- CHINA-ECONOMY/POLICY (UPDATE 1), moved, 450 words

COMPANIES

Bayer reshapes with plan to list plastics unit

FRANKFURT - Germany’s Bayer plans to list its less profitable plastics business on the stock market in a deal that could value the division at around $13 billion as it seeks to focus entirely on healthcare and crop science. (BAYER-PLASTICS/ (UPDATE 3), by Ludwig Burger, expect by 1000 GMT/5 AM ET, 500 words)

Russia’s Gazprom cuts output plans, hurt by Ukraine crisis

MOSCOW - Gazprom has sharply downsized gas production plans for this year, expecting lowest output since the financial crisis-stricken 2009, after cutting supplies to Ukraine over crisis and ceding market share to other producers. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/GAZPROM, expect by 1300 GMT/9 AM ET, by Vladimir Soldatkin, 600 words)

Sony shares slide 10 pct after dividend scrapped

TOKYO - Sony Corp shares fall more than 10 percent in their biggest drop in more than 10 months after the Japanese consumer electronics maker announced deep losses in its smartphone business and scrapped its dividend for the first time since it listed in 1958. (SONY-OUTLOOK/SHARES (UPDATE 1), moved, 500 words)

+ See also:

- SONY-OUTLOOK/ (TIMELINE), moved, 300 words

Swiss pump maker Sulzer in merger talks with Dresser-Rand

Swiss pump maker Sulzer says it is in talks on a potential combination with U.S. compressor and turbine maker Dresser-Rand, a deal that will create a machinery company with a combined market valuation exceeding $10 billion. (SULZER-DRESSER RAND GRP/ (UPDATE 2), moved, 540 words)

Ericsson to cut 1,000 staff as firm quits modems

STOCKHOLM - Ericsson, the world’s top mobile network equipment market, will stop developing modems, shutting a loss-making unit it took on after joint venture partner STMicroelectronics pulled out a year ago. (ERICSSON/MODEMS (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, by Sven Nordenstam, 450 words)

EasyJet ups dividend payout ratio, buys more planes

LONDON - Budget airline easyJet signals confidence in future growth by lifting its dividend payout ratio to 40 percent and adding 27 new planes to its fleet through exercising rights held with Airbus. (EASYJET-RESULTS/ (UPDATE 2), moving shortly, by Sarah Young, 475 words)

Dubai regulator imposes curbs on local Espirito Santo bank

DUBAI - The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) says that it is imposing restrictions on ES Bankers (Dubai) Ltd (ESBD), part of Espirito Santo group, after the Portuguese group ran into financial difficulties. (EMIRATES-ESPIRITO/BANKING (UPDATE 1), moving shortly, 250 words)

Hyundai spends record $10 bln bid for trophy property

SEOUL - Hyundai Motor Group will pay a record $10 billion for the site of its new headquarters in Seoul’s high-end Gangnam district, out-bidding Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and raising investor concerns that it is wasting cash on a trophy property. (KEPCO-REALESTATE/HYUNDAI MOTOR (UPDATE 2, PICTURE), moved, by Joyce Lee, 720 words)

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