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    * Basci appears to dismiss resignation talk. * Erdogan says high interest rates betray the nation. * Lira slumps to record low. By Nevzat Devranoglu and Asli Kandemir. Turkish Central Bank Governor Erdem Basci sought to calm jittery investors on Friday, dismissing rumours that he would resign and giving a brief lift to the lira currency after it tumbled to a record low.

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    * FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.1 pct, gains 14 pct in 2 months. * Airbus surges after posting sharp rise in operating profits. * 'Capitulation of shorts' could fuel rally -Mirabaud's Plassard. * European stocks at highest P/E ratio since 2004. By Blaise Robinson.

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    Japan shares eke out marginal gains, reaching fresh 15- year high. Hong Kong stocks erased earlier gains and closed lower on Friday, with local property shares weaker amid concerns about possible tightening measures on Hong Kong's housing markets. The Hang Seng Index turned down in the afternoon trading and ended 0.3% lower.

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    IMF's credibility has been badly damaged by failed bailout. WASHINGTON-- As Greece wrangles with its creditors for a more sustainable solution to its debt problems, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde has been firm in insisting that the new government in Athens honor the country's previous commitments. The former French finance minister threw cold water this week on the tentative accord between Greece and the European Union, warning that many of...

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    European shares inched higher on Friday, keeping their brisk two-month rally alive as Airbus rose 6 percent after posting a sharp rise in operating earnings. At 0804 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,561.60 points, hitting a fresh seven-year high.

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    Euro zone government bond yields held just above record lows on Friday, as the latest round of inflation data before the ECB kick-starts its bond-buying programme were likely to cement low long-term price growth expectations. Germany's harmonised annual inflation in January is expected to rise to minus 0.2 percent from minus 0.4 percent.

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    Japanese government bonds edged higher on Friday, as the Bank of Japan's bond-buying operations offset any impact on sentiment from the Nikkei stock average's rise to a 15-year high. The BOJ offered to buy up to 400 billion yen of JGBs maturing in five to 10 years, 400 billion yen in the 3-year to 5-year zone, and another 400 billion yen in the 1-year to 3-year zone.

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    LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening 3 to 4 points lower, or down 0.1 percent on Friday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on * The UK blue chip index closed ended 0.2 percent higher at 6,949.73 points on Thursday. * British consumer confidence held steady at a high level this month as low inflation and rising wages made Britons more confident about their finances, according to a poll published on Friday. * ROYAL DUTCH SHELL - The United Steelworkers union (USW) and representatives for several U.S. refineries discussed on Thursday a possible resumption of face-to-face negotiations to settle a 26-day strike, two people familiar with the discussions told Reuters. * RIO TINTO - Rio Tinto said on Friday that in its latest moves to slash costs in response to weak commodity prices it was letting go its energy chief, rolling its coal and uranium businesses into two other units and cutting some other corporate jobs. * BARCLAYS - The bank's' decision to substantially increase its provision for forex fines indicated that a deal could be announced within weeks, Sky News reported late on Thursday. * UK CORPORATE DIARY: Symbol Company Old Mutual PLC International Consolidated Airlines Group SA Lloyds Banking Group PLC Rightmove PLC Restaurant Group PLC Berendsen PLC UBM PLC William Hill PLC Rentokil Initial PLC Spectris PLC IMI PLC Intu Properties PLC TODAY'S UK PAPERS > Financial Times > Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit http://topnews.session.rservices.com * BridgeStation: view story .134 For more information on Top News visit http://topnews.reuters.com (Reporting By Francesco Canepa)

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    PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - European stocks were set to open steady on Friday, taking a breather from their sharp two-month rally that has propelled regional indexes to 7-year highs, with BASF in focus after posting forecast-beating results. Quarterly operating earnings at the world's largest chemicals company rose a better-than-expected 2.8 percent, as strong farming pesticides and basic petrochemicals businesses offset the hit from lower crude prices on its oil and gas division. Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open 3 to 4 points lower, or down 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX to open 3 to 4 points lower, or down 0.04 percent, and France's CAC 40 to open 11 to 12 points lower, or down 0.2 percent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0634 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,110.74 -0.15 % -3.12 NIKKEI 18797.94 0.06 % 12.15 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 488.37 -0.07 % -0.33 EUR/USD 1.1212 0.15 % 0.0017 USD/JPY 119.22 -0.16 % -0.1900 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.014 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 0.304 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,211.00 0.22 % $2.70 US CRUDE $49.02 1.76 % 0.85 > GLOBAL MARKETS-OIL'S DROP CHILLS ASIAN STOCKS > US STOCKS-NASDAQ RESUMES CLIMB; S&P 500, DOW FALL WITH ENERGY > TOKYO'S NIKKEI SHARE AVERAGE CLOSES UP 0.06 PCT > TREASURIES-BOND PRICES DIP ON HIGHER JAN CORE CPI, WEAK 7-YR AUCTION > FOREX-DOLLAR PAUSES AFTER RALLYING ON U.S. DATA, FED REMARKS > GOLD HOLDS UP ON CHINESE DEMAND, SET TO SNAP 4-WEEK LOSING RUN > COPPER NEARS $6,000, EYES BIGGEST MONTHLY GAIN SINCE SEPT 2012 > BRENT RISES ABOVE $61, SET FOR BIGGEST MONTHLY GAIN SINCE 2009 (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)

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    PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open 3 to 4 points lower, or down 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX to open 3 to 4 points lower, or down 0.04 percent, and France's CAC 40 to open 11 to 12 points lower, or down 0.2 percent. MAJOR EUROPEAN COMPANIES REPORTING: Full Year 2014 Amadeus IT Holding SA Earnings Release Full Year 2014 BASF SE Earnings Release Full Year 2014 IMI PLC Earnings Release Full Year 2014 Koninklijke Vopak NV Earnings Release Full Year 2014 Pearson PLC Earnings Release Full Year 2014 Rentokil Initial PLC Earnings Release Full Year 2014 Restaurant Group PLC Earnings Release Full Year 2014 Tecnicas Reunidas SA Earnings Release Full Year 2014 UBM PLC Earnings Release Full Year 2014 William Hill PLC Earnings Release Half Year 2015 Ricardo PLC Earnings Release Preliminary 2014 Brunel International NV Earnings Release Preliminary 2014 Salzgitter AG Earnings Release Q4 2014 Aker ASA Earnings Release Q4 2014 Belgacom SA Earnings Release Q4 2014 Corporacion Financiera Alba SA Earnings Release Q4 2014 Piaggio & C SpA Earnings Release MAJOR U.S. COMPANIES REPORTING : Q4 2014 NRG Energy Inc MAJOR MACROECONOMIC DATA/EVENTS (GMT) : 0700 DE Import prices Jan 0745 FR Consumer spending Jan 0745 FR Producer Prices Jan 1000 IT CPI Feb 1330 US GDP prelim Q4 1445 US Chicago PMI Feb 1500 US U Michigan Sentiment Final Feb 1500 US Pending Homes Jan ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0625 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,110.74 -0.15 % -3.12 NIKKEI 18797.94 0.06 % 12.15 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 488.24 -0.09 % -0.46 EUR/USD 1.1213 0.15 % 0.0017 USD/JPY 119.23 -0.15 % -0.1800 10-YR US TSY YLD 2.014 -- 0.00 10-YR BUND YLD 0.305 -- 0.00 SPOT GOLD $1,209.85 0.13 % $1.55 US CRUDE $48.98 1.68 % 0.81 > GLOBAL MARKETS-OIL'S DROP CHILLS ASIAN STOCKS > US STOCKS-NASDAQ RESUMES CLIMB; S&P 500, DOW FALL WITH ENERGY > TOKYO'S NIKKEI SHARE AVERAGE CLOSES UP 0.06 PCT > TREASURIES-BOND PRICES DIP ON HIGHER JAN CORE CPI, WEAK 7-YR AUCTION > FOREX-DOLLAR PAUSES AFTER RALLYING ON U.S. DATA, FED REMARKS > GOLD HOLDS UP ON CHINESE DEMAND, SET TO SNAP 4-WEEK LOSING RUN > COPPER NEARS $6,000, EYES BIGGEST MONTHLY GAIN SINCE SEPT 2012 > BRENT RISES ABOVE $61, SET FOR BIGGEST MONTHLY GAIN SINCE 2009 (Reporting by Blaise Robinson)

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    Japan's Nikkei share average hit a fresh 15-year high on Friday on upbeat Japanese industrial output data, while the market awaited an announcement from the country's biggest pension fund on its latest asset allocations.

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    Here are the latest trading levels for Asia's major stock markets: Tokyo flat; Hong Kong up 0.2%; Shanghai up 0.5%; Sydney up 0.3%; Seoul down 0.1%; Mumbai up 0.5%; Taipei closed for holiday.

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    NAIROBI, Feb 27 (Reuters) - The following company announcements, scheduled economic indicators, debt and currency market moves and political events may affect African markets on Friday. - - - - - EVENTS: * ANGOLA - Foreign reserves data to be announced * ANGOLA - Central bank due to announce key interest rate decision * NIGERIA - Foreign reserve figures due to be released * SOUTH AFRICA - Money supply data to be released * SOUTH AFRICA - Treasury holds inflation-linked bond auction * SOUTH AFRICA - Treasury holds weekly Treasury bill auction * SOUTH AFRICA - Fuel price adjustment figures to be announced * SOUTH AFRICA - Trade balance data to be released * UGANDA - Inflation data for February to be released GLOBAL MARKETS Asian shares pulled further away from a five-month high on Friday as a sharp pullback in crude oil prices dampened risk appetite, though Japanese stocks crawled to a fresh 15-year peak after the dollar surged against the yen overnight. WORLD OIL PRICES Crude oil futures rebounded on Friday, with Brent heading for its biggest monthly gain since May 2009, as supply outages in North Sea and renewed fears of gas supply disruption in Europe supported prices. EMERGING MARKETS For the top emerging markets news, double click on AFRICA STOCKS For the latest news on African stocks, click on AFRICA CURRENCIES Ghana's cedi is expected to ride the wave of positive investor sentiment after the government's successful negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, while other African currencies are likely to hold steady. SOUTH AFRICA MARKETS * South Africa's rand weakened against the dollar in line with the euro on Thursday, relinquishing earlier gains which had been triggered by the government's plan to narrow the budget deficit. * South African stocks edged up on Thursday led by Gold Fields GFIJ.J which rose along with bullion prices, while British American Tobacco BATJ.J scaled new highs after reporting higher full-year earnings. KENYA MARKETS Kenya's shilling closed slightly firmer, with inflows of foreign exchange from tea sales and other sectors countering end-month importer demand for dollars. The main benchmark index closed slightly higher. KENYA RATES Kenya's central bank kept its key lending rate unchanged as expected at 8.50 percent on Thursday, saying overall inflation remained within the government's target and continued to support macroeconomic stability. GHANA IMF Ghana and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached agreement on Thursday on a three-year funding deal they hope will restore fiscal stability to an economy hailed until recently as an African star. SOUTH AFRICA MAIZE South Africa will likely harvest 9.66 million tonnes of maize in 2015, 32 percent less than the bumper 14.25 million tonnes reaped last year because of a scorching drought, a government agency said on Thursday. TANZANIA GROWTH Tanzania's economy grew 6.8 percent in the third quarter of 2014 compared with 7.4 percent in the same period a year ago due to a slowdown in agriculture, construction and transport sectors, data showed on Thursday. NIGERIA ELECTION Any further delays to Nigeria's election would be unacceptable and the opposition will take the government to court if the election commission chief is forced out, presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday. GABON BUDGET Oil-producer Gabon plans to revise its 2015 budget and cut spending on goods, services and fuel subsidies following a sharp drop in oil prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday. BOKO HARAM BOMBING Boko Haram bombers killed 23 people on Thursday, authorities said, as the Islamist insurgents fight back against a military offensive launched by Nigeria and three neighbouring countries. LESOTHO ELECTION Feuding parties in Lesotho's ruling coalition will face off on Saturday in early national elections staged in a bid to restore stability six months after an attempted coup. For the latest precious metals report click on For the latest base metals report click on For the latest crude oil report click on

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    Hong Kong and Shanghai stocks rose Friday morning, with investors looking ahead to the annual sessions of China's two key legislative bodies next week, with analysts expecting Communist Party leaders to unveil key policies to support the economy. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inched up 0.1% after gains the previous two days, and the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.4%, following a 2.2% rally on Thursday. Major Hong Kong property developer Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. and sister...

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    * Industrial output beats strong expectations * Nikkei could make biggest monthly gains since Nov 2013 * Financial shares leading gains, Orix up By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, Feb 27 - Tokyo share prices hit a fresh 15-year high on Friday on upbeat Japanese industrial output data, while the market awaited an announcement from the country's biggest pension fund on its latest asset allocations.

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    Japanese stocks inched their way to fresh gains early Friday, as the boost from a weaker yen outweighed any drag from mixed economic data released just ahead of the open. In initial trades, the Nikkei Average was up 0.1%, putting a little icing on the 1.1% gain Thursday, while the Topix improved by 0.3%. With the dollar rising to Yen119.24 from Yen118.75 at the previous Tokyo stock close, some of the forex-sensitive names made a move higher, with Panasonic Corp. up 1.2%, Sharp Corp. up...

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    U.S. stocks closed lower on the last trading day of February after mixed U.S. economic data on a day when European stocks hit records and oil prices rebounded for their first monthly gain since June. The Nasdaq was the weakest of the three major U.S. indexes on Friday, weighed down by Apple Inc as some investors took profits ahead of its March 9 product unveiling.

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    * European stocks see strongest start of year in decades. * Asian stocks sag after Wall Street softens. * Revised U.S. GDP data due at 1330 GMT. By Emelia Sithole-Matarise. European shares held steady at seven-year highs on Friday as investor confidence stayed buoyant ahead of the European Central Bank's monthly 60-billion-euro money-printing programme set to start in March.

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    * Canadian dollar at C$1.2527 or 79.83 U.S. cents * Bond prices lower across the maturity curve By Solarina Ho TORONTO, Feb 26 - The Canadian dollar softened against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as weaker crude oil prices weighed and investor attention focused on the monetary policy directions of the U.S. and Canadian central banks.