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Updated: 55 min 49 sec ago

FTSE inches higher, Tesco slumps after profit warning

29 August, 2014 - 10:57

By Atul Prakash LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's top share index ended slightly higher on Friday, with stronger pharmaceutical stocks on renewed merger and acquisition talks outpacing a sharp decline in retail stocks after another profit warning by Tesco. AstraZeneca, which added the most points to the blue-chip FTSE 100 index, rose 2 percent on talk of further takeover interest from Pfizer following an abortive $118 billion takeover attempt in May. Other drugmakers also gained, with Shire rising 0.7 percent and GlaxoSmithKline advancing 0.8 percent. Tesco slumped 6.6 percent, the top decliner in the benchmark FTSE 100 index, followed by Morrisons, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer, down 1.8 to 5.0 percent. "Tesco's profit warning shows the sector is now changing.

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Slovakia confirms Russian minister landed after Poland, Ukraine denied flyover

29 August, 2014 - 10:55
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu landed in Bratislava on Friday after Poland and Ukraine refused to allow his plane into their airspace while he was attempting to return home, the Slovak Interior Ministry said. An Interior Ministry spokesman said Shoigu remained on board his plane at the airport but was offered transit to the Russian embassy in Bratislava.
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Russia ready for gas talks with Ukraine, warns of disruptions

29 August, 2014 - 10:54
By Katya Golubkova and Denis Pinchuk MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is ready for talks on resuming gas supplies to Ukraine, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday, warning of disruption to flows to Europe this winter if a row over pricing and debts is not resolved. Novak said Moscow was ready to reduce its prices in an effort to secure a deal, but the proposed sum remained well above what Kiev has said it is willing to pay. The dispute comes amid escalating tensions between the two countries, with Ukraine accusing Russia of sending weapons and men to help a separatist rebellion in the east of the country -- an accusation Moscow rejects.
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Shortage-weary Venezuelans scoff at fingerprinting plan for food sales

29 August, 2014 - 10:50

By Alexandra Ulmer CARACAS (Reuters) - A government plan to combat Venezuela's food shortages by fingerprinting shoppers in grocery stores has sparked a backlash ranging from violent street protests to social media campaigns ridiculing the idea. Apart from a short supply of dollars for imports, the shortages have been blamed on heavy subsidies that allow shoppers to stock up on staples and resell them in neighbouring Colombia or on the local black market. President Nicolas Maduro says the biometric system, to be introduced this year, will allow authorities to weed out smugglers, often seen in lines buying conspicuous amounts of goods that are in short supply. It's only more regulation," said Jose Briceno, a pastry chef who was once a fervent supporter of late socialist President Hugo Chavez but says his handpicked successor, Maduro, should resign.

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Scotland risk fails to derail shares as vote looms

29 August, 2014 - 10:46

By Tricia Wright and Vincent Flasseur LONDON (Reuters) - With only weeks to go before Scots vote on independence, Scotland-based stocks are reversing months of underperformance as investors take a sanguine stance on the impact of a potential break-up of the UK. This is as much a reflection of the marginal exposure of UK stocks to Scotland, with only 12 companies on the FTSE 350 index based north of the border, as it is about investors' belief that Scots will prove the pollsters right and vote not to split. The performance of stocks headquartered in Scotland - excluding listed investment trusts - began to lag the broader FTSE 350 last October but has clawed back much of this underperformance since May, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters. There are clearly other issues at play for these stocks besides the referendum - Edinburgh-based oil firm Cairn Energy reported a loss for the first half of the year and is down some 30 percent on the year-to-date - but some have warned of the risk of increased compliance costs and contingency plans.     Several polls have shown support for independence pushing higher, but the most recent "poll of polls", on Aug. 15, which was based on an average of the last six polls and excluded undecided respondents, found support for a breakaway stood at 43 percent against 57 percent for remaining within Britain.

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EU plan won't satisfy sceptics - PM

29 August, 2014 - 10:44

David Cameron has conceded that his efforts to renegotiate the UK's relationship with Brussels would fail to appease hardline Eurosceptics within his own party who are determined to leave the European Union no matter what changes he could achieve.

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Cameron Warns of Decades' Struggle Against Islamist Militants and Pledges Long-Term Response

29 August, 2014 - 10:39

David Cameron has repeated his claim that Britain is locked in a "generational struggle" with Islamist terrorists and revealed he will create new laws to confiscate suspected terrorists' UK passports. Speaking after the terror threat in Britain was raised to "severe", suggesting a terrorist attack was highly likely, Cameron warned the UK was facing a "greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before", although the terror threat level has previously been set higher. Cameron underlined the latest threat came from the "poisonous ideology" which had nothing to do with Islam and which would require a generational struggle which would see the UK involved in the fight for "years if not decades". He did not mention next week's Nato summit in South Wales, where the Iraq-Syria crisis is high on the agenda, but there have already been fears that the gathering of international leaders, including President Obama, might be a terrorist target.

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EU ministers discuss new response to Russia over Ukraine

29 August, 2014 - 10:35
By Francesca Landini and Lisa Jucca MILAN (Reuters) - European Union foreign ministers met in Italy on Friday to find what a diplomatic source said would be a clear message on sanctions for EU heads of states to make to Russia over its actions in Ukraine. The five-month conflict in Ukraine reached a dangerous point this week after NATO said on Thursday that well over 1,000 Russian troops had crossed the Ukrainian border and were fighting alongside pro-Moscow separatists. Russia says it has no involvement in the conflict that is pitting the rebels against the Ukrainian military, but EU foreign ministers were clearly not persuaded. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, speaking from Amsterdam, said tougher sanctions against Russia should be considered.
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Poles recall Nazi seizure of radio station, see parallels with today

29 August, 2014 - 10:29
By Wojciech Zurawski GLIWICE Poland (Reuters) - Joachim Fulczyk still remembers the fateful radio broadcast 75 years ago this weekend that provided Adolf Hitler with a pretext to launch his invasion of Poland that sparked World War Two. Now 83, Fulczyk listened with his mother and aunt to a brief address supposedly given by Polish saboteurs who had seized the local radio station in Gleiwitz, then located inside Nazi Germany, a few km from the Polish border. "My mother, hearing the news (that Poles had taken the radio station), told her sister 'this can't be true'," said Fulczyk, who still lives in Gleiwitz, now known by its Polish name Gliwice. As Poles and Germans prepare to mark the 75th anniversary on Monday of Hitler's invasion of Poland, historians and residents of Gliwice recalled the seizure of the radio station - still today Europe's tallest wooden structure - and drew parallels with the role of media in modern conflicts such as Ukraine.
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Ukraine wants weapons, does not expect NATO intervention - envoy

29 August, 2014 - 10:20
By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ukraine wants supplies of weapons but does not expect NATO to send soldiers to help it fight Russian troops in its eastern provinces, Kiev's ambassador to NATO said on Friday. Asked if any NATO member was currently supplying Ukraine with arms, Ihor Dolhov told reporters after an emergency meeting with NATO ambassadors: "No, unfortunately not." Dolhov said Ukraine was also not receiving any state-of-the-art weapons, despite Russian suggestions to the contrary. Dolhov was speaking in Brussels after ambassadors to the alliance discussed the escalating crisis in which NATO said well over 1,000 Russian troops are now operating inside Ukrainian territory.
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New Turkish cabinet spells little policy shift, Erdogan stays dominant

29 August, 2014 - 10:15

By Gulsen Solaker and Nick Tattersall ANKARA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu kept key members of Turkey's economic management team in place and named Ankara's point man on Europe as foreign minister in a new cabinet on Friday, moves signalling President Tayyip Erdogan's continued domination. Erdogan, who had held sway over politics as prime minister since 2003, was sworn in on Thursday as Turkey's first popularly-elected president, cementing his position as its most powerful leader of recent times. Erdogan is likely to retain influence over the new team, with his former aide Yalcin Akdogan and Numan Kurtulmus, the deputy chairman of the ruling AK Party and another close ally, both named as deputy prime ministers.

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Don't mess with nuclear Russia, Putin says

29 August, 2014 - 10:05
By Alexei Anishchuk LAKE SELIGER Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia's armed forces, backed by its nuclear arsenal, were ready to meet any aggression, declaring at a pro-Kremlin youth camp that foreign states should understand: "It's best not to mess with us." Putin told the assembly, on the banks of a lake near Moscow, the Russian takeover of Crimea in March was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence. He said continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate. Ukraine, and Western governments, accuse Russia of sending troops and armour to back the separatists in a conflict that has already killed over 2,000 people.
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Ukraine sees no progress in gas talks with Russia

29 August, 2014 - 10:05
Ukraine's Energy Minister Yuri Prodan said on Friday that Kiev was disappointed by a "lack of constructive approach" from Russia on gas talks, which have already caused a cut-off of gas supplies to Ukrainian consumers. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that Moscow was ready for talks on resuming gas supplies to Ukraine, and ready to reduce its prices in an effort to secure a deal. Novak said that Russia could apply a retroactive discount of $100, bringing the price per 1,000 cubic metres for April-June to $385.
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Chelsea striker Costa doubtful for Everton trip

29 August, 2014 - 10:02

By Michael Hann LONDON (Reuters) - Diego Costa is doubtful for Chelsea's trip to Everton on Saturday while manager Jose Mourinho has said the club will be in trouble if media reports of a Fernando Torres move to AC Milan prove accurate. Spain striker Costa, who joined in the close season for 32 million pounds from Atletico Madrid, scored in Chelsea's opening Premier League victories over Burnley and Leicester City before picking up a muscle injury in training this week.

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Lloyds Banking Group says complaints rose in first half

29 August, 2014 - 09:59
LONDON (Reuters) - State-backed Lloyds Banking Group said complaints increased by 20 percent in the first half of the year, driven by an increase in cases about mortgages. Britain's biggest retail bank said on Friday that, excluding those concerning payment protection insurance (PPI), its total complaints rose to 129,469 from 104,590 in the same period the year before. Lloyds said the rise reflected the implementation of new rules for the sale of mortgages, the introduction of auto enrolment for corporate pension schemes and more complaints against banks by claims management companies. ...
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Putin hopeful Russia won't lose right to host 2018 World Cup

29 August, 2014 - 09:55

President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he hoped Russia would not lose the right to host the 2018 football World Cup following Western calls to stop the country staging the tournament. Asked whether there was any risk that Russia could lose its right to hold the tournament due to the complicated political situation, Putin said: "I hope not. FIFA's media department was not immediately contactable.

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Somalia takes Kenya to U.N. court in oil rights row

29 August, 2014 - 09:45
Somalia filed a suit against Kenya at the U.N.'s highest court, seeking to resolve a long-running dispute over lucrative oil reserves in the Indian Ocean. Somalia asked the International Court of Justice in The Hague to determine the maritime boundary between the coastal nations, which disagree about the rights for exploration and collect revenue from oil discoveries. Somalia asked the court to intervene, saying "diplomatic negotiations, in which their respective views have been fully exchanged, have failed to resolve this disagreement," a statement issued by the court early Friday said. Kenyan Attorney General, Githu Muigai, told Reuters he had not yet been served a legal suit but would "take legal steps to defend the interest of the Republic of Kenya".
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U.S. sends arms to bolster Lebanon army after Islamist incursion

29 August, 2014 - 09:45

The United States has begun delivering nearly $20 million of arms including assault rifles, anti-tank missiles and mortars to bolster Lebanon's army after Islamist insurgents seized a border town for several days this month, U.S. Lebanon, a country of about 4 million which borders Israel, has long been buffeted by the rivalries of regional and international powers including Iran and Saudi Arabia, who back its opposing politicians largely along sectarian lines.

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Medical charity MSF wants U.N. to take lead on Ebola epidemic

29 August, 2014 - 09:40
By Marine Pennetier PARIS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council must lead efforts to stop the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, a senior official from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Friday, warning the current response risked aggravating the crisis. Mego Terzian, head of the medical charity's French arm, said the epidemic was getting worse each day and neither MSF, the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea had the means to contain it. "I am extremely pessimistic if there is not a substantial international mobilisation," Terzian told Reuters in an interview in Paris. MSF is the leading private charity battling Ebola, with about 2,000 staff in the four countries - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria - previously affected.
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Telefonica Deutschland gets final EU clearance for E-Plus deal

29 August, 2014 - 09:31

Telefonica Deutschland has received final clearance from the European Commission to buy the German business of Dutch peer KPN to create Germany's largest telecoms operator in terms of customers. Telefonica Deutschland had in June agreed a deal with small rival Drillisch, which was expected to pave the way for regulatory clearance for the 8.6 billion euro takeover of the unit, which operates under the E-Plus brand. The new combination will have a market share of roughly 30 percent and Telefonica is hoping it will give it more clout in its battle with Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom. Telefonica Deutschland said on Friday it expected the deal will be closed in the third quarter of 2014.

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