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September 18, 2014 / 1:01 PM / in 3 years

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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 2, PICTURE), moved, by Anirban Nag, 690 words)

Low take-up for cheap bank credit raises pressure on ECB

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank sees far less demand than expected for its new four-year loans to banks, raising doubts about a stimulus package it hopes will stave off deflation and revive the euro zone economy. (ECB-FUNDING/ (UPDATE 2), moved, by Eva Taylor and John O‘Donnell, 985 words)

Dollar hits six-year high vs yen, ECB loan call disappoints

LONDON - Lacklustre demand for the ECB’s new ultra-cheap loans boosts bets it will have to overcome reservations about sovereign bond buying, and left markets eyeing the widening policy divergence with the United States. (MARKETS-GLOBAL/ (WRAPUP 5), moving shortly, by Marc Jones, 940 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 (PICTURE), moved, 470 words)

+ See also:

- ALIBABA-IPO/YAHOO, moved, by Alexei Oreskovic and Ross Kerber, 515 words

ECONOMY

Russia approves tough budget as sanctions restrict growth

MOSCOW - The Russian government approves the country’s toughest budget since the global financial crisis to keep a tight control on spending as Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis exacerbate an economic slowdown. (UKRAINE-CRISIS/RUSSIA-BUDGET (UPDATE 1), moved, by Lidia Kelly, 400 words)

+ See also:

- UKRAINE-CRISIS/GAZPROM. Expect by 1400 GMT/10 AM ET, by Vladimir Soldatkin, 580 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)

U.S. housing starts fall; prior month’s data revised higher

WASHINGTON - U.S. housing starts and permits fell in August, but upward revisions to the prior month’s data suggests the housing market continues to gradually improve. (USA-ECONOMY/HOUSINGSTARTS, moved, 300 words)

+ See also:

- USA-ECONOMY/UNEMPLOYMENT, moved, 290 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)

SNB says ready for action as deflation risks resurface

ZURICH - The Swiss National Bank toughens its stance on defending a cap on the franc which has come under pressure from recent appreciation in the currency, but stops short of announcing further measures for now. (SWISS-SNB/RATES (UPDATE 2), moved, by Alice Baghdjian, 450 words)

COMPANIES

Bayer hits record high on move to list plastics business

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 10 billion euros ($13 billion) as it focuses on healthcare, veterinary drugs and crop protection. (BAYER-PLASTICS/ (UPDATE 3), moved, by Georgina Prodhan and Ludwig Burger, 785 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-PLAYSTATION/ (INTERVIEW, UPDATE 1, PICTURE, GRAPHIC), moved, by Sophie Knight, 1,015 words

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

Ericsson to shut modem business, 1,000 jobs to go

STOCKHOLM - Ericsson, the world’s biggest mobile network equipment maker, is winding down its modem business, shutting a loss-making unit with the departure of about 1,000 staff. (ERICSSON-RESTRUCTURING/MODEMS (UPDATE 1), moved, by Sven Nordenstam, 410 words)

Turkey’s Erdogan denies bid to sink Bank Asya

ISTANBUL - President Tayyip Erdogan denies the existence of any concerted effort in Turkey to sink one of its banks, days after lender Bank Asya says it has been the target of a systematic campaign to undermine it. (TURKEY-BANKASYA/, moved, 430 words)

Denmark’s GN Store Nord bets on phone-free office

COPENHAGEN - Office desks around the world will soon be bereft of the ubiquitous telephone -- or that, at least is the hope of GN Store Nord, the Danish company better known for hearing aids which has developed a headset that connects all forms of communications. (GN STORE NORD-STRATEGY/ (INTERVIEW), moving shortly, by Stine Jacobsen, 770 words)

EasyJet flags higher dividends, 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), moved, by Sarah Young, 475 words)

+ See also:

- AIRLINES-CHARGES/RULING, moved, 280 words

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