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    By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, April 23- Canada's main stock index edged narrowly higher in early trade on Wednesday, with better-than-expected profits at Canadian National Railway Co (CNI) offset by dips in heavyweight bank shares. All the rail companies are doing very well, part of it is because of oil-by-rail... there is also a huge backlog of grain, "said David Baskin,...

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    TORONTO, April 23- Canada's main stock index opened higher on Wednesday, helped in part by Canadian National Railway (CNI), which reported better-than-expected results after markets on Tuesday. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index opened up 15.44 points, or 0.11 percent, at 14,571.41. Six of the 10 main groups were in positive territory.

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    *Canadian dollar at C $1.1047 or 90.52 U.S. cents* Bond prices higher across the maturity curve By Leah Schnurr TORONTO, April 23- The Canadian dollar weakened modestly against the greenback on Wednesday as more signs of slower economic growth in China and downward revisions to domestic retail sales left the currency churning in its recent range.

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    Ingersoll-Rand Plc (IR), best known for its Trane airconditioners, forecast current-quarter earnings above estimates after reporting better-than-expected first-quarter results, helped by higher sales of its heating and cooling systems. The company's shares rose 3.5 percent to $60 in light premarket trading on Tuesday.

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    * Lisbon auctions first bond since bailout began in 2011. * Yield of 3.58 percent is record low for 10-year bond. * Portugal better placed for clean bailout exit. * PM says no decision yet on possible standby loan. By Andrei Khalip and Emelia Sithole-Matarise.

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    U.S. President Barack Obama begins a six-day Asia trip Wednesday with an agenda focused on renewing political connections in a skeptical region, rather than on deals for American multinationals. Security and trade dialogue against the backdrop of a rising China will dominate the president's visits to Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea, analysts say.

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    April 23 - Stock futures indicated lower opening for Canadian shares on Wednesday as signs of a slowing Chinese economy and worries about Ukraine offset some positive European economic data. Chinese factory activity shrank for the fourth straight month in April but private businesses across the euro zone enjoyed their best month in nearly three years.

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    * FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 percent. * Ericsson falls after earnings miss. * Primark gives Associated British Foods a lift. * French, German PMIs point to diverging economies. By Alistair Smout. European shares fell on Wednesday, retracing some of the previous session's strong gains as investors responded to weak earnings from Ericsson and mixed data out of the euro zone.

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    European stocks fell and Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday as the conflict in Ukraine and ensuing row between Russian and Western governments escalated and Chinese manufacturing data pointed to economic weakness.

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    Stocks in Hong Kong fell on signs of further contraction in China's manufacturing sector, while a rally on Wall Street bolstered Japan in a quiet, holiday-shortened week for regional markets. A strong session for U.S. stocks that sent the S&P 500 to its sixth-straight positive close drove sentiment in Australia and Japan. The S&P 500 gained 0.4% on Tuesday to 1879.55, notching its longest winning streak since mid- September.

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    LONDON-- European stocks slipped Wednesday, giving back a slice of their hefty gains from the previous session. The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 0.1% to 336.55 as industrial and banking issues pulled back. Also down were shares of LM Ericsson AB, falling 4.6% after the Swedish mobile-network company posted an.

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    *Euro zone PMI bolsters recovery prospects, lifts euro* China PMI shows economy still stuttering* Aussie dollar plunges after inflation surprisingly low* U.S. stocks expected to see flat start, earnings deluge eyed By Marc Jones LONDON, April 23- European shares edged down on Wednesday after three days of gains as signs of a still stuttering Chinese economy and...

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    * FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.2 percent. * French, German PMIs point to diverging economies. * Ericsson falls after earnings miss. * Primark gives Associated British Foods a lift. By Alistair Smout. French blue-chip shares underperformed their German counterparts on Wednesday after survey data showed that the recovery in France is still weaker than the euro zone's biggest economy.

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    * Aussie falls on lower-than-expected CPI data. * Limited reaction to China HSBC flash manufacturing PMI. * Euro inches higher after German flash PMI. By Patrick Graham. The Australian dollar sank almost one percent in value on Wednesday after a lower than expected rise in consumer prices appeared to reduce the chances of higher official interest rates this year.

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    * Portugal to resume bond auctions after 3-year hiatus. * Lisbon selling up to 750 mln euro of 10-year bonds. * Yield-hungry investors seen snapping up the debt. By Emelia Sithole-Matarise. Portugal's government bond yields hit eight-year lows before an auction on Wednesday of 10-year debt, on optimism around the country's full return to debt markets after three years.

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    European shares edged lower on Wednesday after strong gains in the previous session, pegged back following an earnings miss from Ericsson and weaker-than-expected French data. Shares in the Swedish mobile telecom equipment maker fell 4.5 percent, the top FTSEurofirst 300 faller, after missing first-quarter sales and profit forecasts, hit by weak trading in North America.

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    LOS ANGELES-- Offering investors their first peek at the state of Chinese manufacturing this month, HSBC reported Wednesday that the preliminary version of its Purchasing Managers' Index rose modestly to 48.3 from last month's 48.0. While the result remained below the 50 level that divides expansion from contraction, the gain halted a string of declines for the data set since last October. And yet the market reaction was broadly negative, likely because of some of the report's...

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    Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening flat to up by 1 point, according to financial bookmakers. * The UK blue chip index closed up by 0.9 percent, or 56.51 points, at 6,681.76 points on Tuesday.