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    * Kiwi rallies after RBNZ signals more rate hikes ahead. * Yen supported as Tokyo shares slip on lack of US-Japan trade pact. By Ian Chua and Masayuki Kitano. The New Zealand dollar rallied on Thursday after the country's central bank raised interest rates and signalled more hikes ahead, while caution ahead of a speech by the European Central Bank's president kept the euro subdued.

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    By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, April 24- Japanese shares were down slightly on Thursday morning, as investors were reluctant to bid up prices ahead of the looming earnings season and lingering worries over the economic impact of a sales tax hike that kicked in this month. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who are expected to discuss a...

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    Global stocks were back on the front foot on Thursday, as upbeat earnings from tech heavyweights Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) helped shake off some of the jitters that have hit the sector in recent weeks. European bourses started brightly, with the FTSE 100 up 0.5 percent and the DAX, the CAC 40 and markets in Madrid and Milan between 0.7 and 0.9 percent firmer.

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    * Apple (AAPL) shares jump 8 pct after hours on buyback, results. * Nasdaq futures rally 1 pct after Wednesday's weakness. * New Zealand dollar higher as central bank hikes rates. By Wayne Cole. Shares in tech heavyweights Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) held hefty after-hours gains on Thursday as their results handily outpaced Wall Street expectations, though Asian markets managed only a muted cheer on the news.

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    * Kiwi rallies after RBNZ signals more rate hikes ahead. * Other major currencies remain stubbornly subdued. * Euro awaits speech by head of ECB. By Ian Chua. The New Zealand dollar rallied on Thursday after the country's central bank lifted interest rates and signalled more hikes ahead, while caution ahead of a speech by the European Central Bank kept the euro subdued.

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    By Alastair Sharp TORONTO, April 23- Canada's main stock index edged lower on Wednesday, with gains from some big energy producers offset by dips in heavyweight banks and a pullback in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX) shares after an acquisition-backed bump. Suncor Energy Inc (SU) gained 2.6 percent to C $41.37 and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ) added...

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    *Canadian dollar at C $1.1032 or 90.65 U.S. cents* Bond prices higher across the maturity curve By Leah Schnurr TORONTO, April 23- The Canadian dollar was little changed 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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    Canada's main stock index turned negative during a sharp slip in the last half hour of trade on Wednesday. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index shed around 20 points in minutes, pushing it more than 8 points below its last close, to 14,547.56. Six of the 10 main groups were in negative territory.

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     GEVO (GEVO), Inc.  stock is tracing lower on Wednesday after making big gains on Tuesday. By midafternoon, shares of the nano-cap had tumbled -8.5% to $1.08. Trading volume of 3.5 million was more than double its three-month daily average of 1.4 million. Since the announcement, shares are up 23.9%. . Must Read: Warren Buffett's 10 Favorite Growth Stocks.

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    Portugal has been seen as following in Ireland's bond-market footsteps for much of the past 18 months. Remarkably, it is now catching up fast with the leading light of the euro zone's bailed-out nations. An unsupported exit for Portugal from its EUR78 billion bailout in the coming weeks, as Ireland managed in December, looks increasingly likely.

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    LONDON-- U.K. equities fell Wednesday, easing from a nearly two-week high, with Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC (MRWSF) down after a broker cut its estimates on the grocery chain, while Associated British Foods PLC (ASBFF) shares sweetened on the company's plans to expand overseas. The FTSE 100 index slipped 0.1% to 6,674.74.

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    LONDON-- European stocks lost ground Wednesday, with LM Ericsson AB among the decliners pulling the region's benchmark index back from its hefty gain in the previous session. The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 0.6% to 335.05, handing back a portion of Tuesday's 1.4% jump that was led by a rally in drug makers. The decline followed three-straight days of wins for the index.

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    RIO DE JANEIRO, April 23- Latin American markets fell on Wednesday as concerns over Chinese factory growth dragged on mining stocks and the currencies of countries that rely on commodity exports to China. MSCI's benchmark stock index for Latin America dropped 0.4 percent in a second session of losses after data showed China's factory activity shrank for the...

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    Shares of CNOOC Ltd. (CEO)  are down -1.43% to $163.56 as the Beijing-based offshore crude oil and natural gas producer sells multibillion-dollar bonds in three portions, in part to repay loans related to $15.1 billion purchase of Canadian oil-sands operator Nexen Inc., sources say, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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     Ericsson was falling -6.1% to $12.21 Wednesday after missing analysts' estimates for earnings and revenue in the first quarter. For the first quarter the Swedish company posted earnings of 0.90 kronor a share, missing the Capital IQ Consensus Estimate of 0.93 kronor a share by 0.03 kronor. Ericsson said sales declined in North America and Japan in the quarter.

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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,...