DJIA: 17,712.66  +34.43 (0.19%) | NASDAQ: 4,891.219  +27.857 (0.57%) | S&P 500: 2,061.02  +4.87 (0.24%) Markets status unavailable

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    Shanghai stocks resume winning streak and buck the weaker trend. HONG KONG-- Japanese stocks recorded their biggest drop in two months on Thursday, taking cues from a steep decline in the U.S. markets overnight. Meanwhile, mainland Chinese stock markets resumed their winning ways after snapping a 10- session run in the previous session.

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    Investors took refuge in German bonds on Thursday after Saudi Arabia launched air strikes in Yemen but analysts said a further fall in yields was capped by the prospect of an inflation-boosting oil price rise.

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    Middle East stock markets fell sharply in early trade on Thursday after Saudi Arabia and allies launched air strikes in Yemen, edging towards a fresh proxy war with Iran. Saudi Arabia's main index tumbled more than 4 percent in the opening minutes of trade but quickly stabilised and was down only 1.8 percent after 15 minutes.

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    European shares fell on Thursday, with London Stock Exchange leading the market lower on news that Borse Dubai will sell its full stake in the company and ARM Holdings extending the previous session's steep losses, tracking its weaker U.S. peers.

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    LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 26 to 37 points, or as much as 0.5 percent lower on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on * The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed down 28.71 points, or 0.4 percent, at 6,990.97 points on Wednesday, weighed down by a drop in chip designer ARM , having hit a record intra-day high of 7,065.08 on Tuesday. * RIO TINTO - Rio Tinto Chief Executive Sam Walsh said putting a cap on iron ore production was not in Australia's national interest, dismissing a suggestion it could help lift the traded price of the steelmaking commodity. * GLENCORE - Glencore has decided to close its West Wallsend underground coal mine in Australia in 2016, several months earlier than planned, saying poor coal prices meant it would not make sense to extend the life of the mine. * ANTOFAGASTA, ANGLO AMERICAN - Torrential downpours in the north of Chile, the world's biggest copper producer, have forced companies to suspend operations at several of the area's major mines, putting an estimated 1.6 million tonnes of capacity of the red metal on hold. * ROYAL DUTCH SHELL - Shell expects only a fraction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects already approved by the Canadian government to go ahead in the next decade, an executive said on Wednesday. Shell will also carry out a planned turnaround at its 255,000 barrel per day Scotford upgrader in northern Alberta during spring of this year, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. * HSBC - The Malaysian Islamic banking arm of HSBC Holdings will tap the Islamic bonds (sukuk) market for only the third time on Friday, as part of a 3 billion ringgit ($816 million) sukuk programme, the lender said in a regulatory filing. * STANDARD CHARTERED - Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, a unit of Standard Chartered, reported on Thursday a 7.5 percent rise in pre-tax profit for 2014 to 14.35 billion shillings ($156 million) as net interest income climbed. * EX-DIVS - British Land, Prudential, Schroders, Sky and Smiths Group go ex-dividend on Thursday, after which investors will no longer qualify for the latest dividend payout. The estimated impact of this will trim around 3.8 points off the FTSE 100 index. * UK CORPORATE DIARY: easyJet plc easyJet plc Pre-Close Trading Statement Release Euromoney Institutional Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC Investor PLC Pre-Close Trading Statement Release Henry Boot PLC Full Year 2014 Henry Boot PLC Earnings Release International Public Full Year 2014 International Partnerships Ltd Public Partnerships Ltd Earnings Release Amec Foster Wheeler PLC Full Year 2014 Amec Foster Wheeler PLC Earnings Release Daily Mail and General Half Year 2015 Daily Mail and Trust PLC General Trust PLC Pre-Close Trading Update Release 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 Alistair Smout)

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    Japanese government bonds were mostly steady on Thursday, after a sale of two-year notes went as investors had expected. The Ministry of Finance offered 2.5 trillion yen of 2-year bonds with a 0.1 percent coupon. The benchmark 10-year yield was flat at 0.325 percent, while the 2-year yield was also flat at 0.025 percent.

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    * Semi-conductor sector leads losses * Weak U.S. durable goods orders hit risk sentiment * Market cautious on developments in Yemen; oil firms gain * Many investors remain optimistic over Japan's economic outlook By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, March 26 - Japan's Nikkei share average dropped on Thursday as investors sold semi-conductor and other hi-tech shares after their U.S. peers were sold off sharp...

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    LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Financial spreadbetters predicted Britain's FTSE 100 to open 26 to 37 points lower, or down as much as 0.5 percent, Germany's DAX to fall 27 to 28 points, or as much as 0.2 percent, and France's CAC 40 to drop 9 to 11 points, or as much as 0.2 percent, on Thursday. EUROPEAN COMPANIES REPORTING: easyJet plc Pre-Close Trading Statement Release Q4 2014 Deutsche Postbank AG Earnings Release Q4 2014 Solarworld AG Earnings Release Full Year 2014 SMA Solar Technology AG Earnings Release Q4 2014 Telefonica Deutschland Holding AG Earnings Release SuperGroup Capital Markets Update Half Year 2015 Daily Mail and General Trust Trading Update WH Ireland Group PLC Annual Shareholders Meeting U.S. COMPANIES REPORTING : Q2 2015 Accenture Q3 2015 ConAgra Foods Inc Q4 2014 GameStop Corp MACROECONOMIC DATA/EVENTS : 0700 DE GfK Consumer Sentiment 0930 GB Retail Sales 1230 US Initial Jobless Claims 1345 US Markit Svcs PMI Flash ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ MARKET SNAPSHOT AT 0622 GMT: LAST PCT CHG NET CHG S&P 500 2,061.05 -1.46 % -30.45 NIKKEI 19471.12 -1.39 % -275.08 MSCI ASIA EX-JP 483.88 -1.01 % -4.92 EUR/USD 1.0983 0.13 % 0.0014 USD/JPY 118.83 -0.54 % -0.6500 10-YR US TSY YLD 1.913 -- -0.01 10-YR BUND YLD 0.228 -- 0.01 SPOT GOLD $1,200.96 0.48 % $5.71 US CRUDE $51.14 3.92 % 1.93 > Asia shares skid; oil climbs on Yemen escalation > Wall St drops as biotechs, semis sink Nasdaq > Nikkei tumbles as semi-conductor shares take hit > Yields rise after weak five-year note sale > Dollar drifts lower, undermined by soft U.S. data > Gold extends gains in longest rally since 2012, weak US data aids > London copper underpinned by Chile floods, mine closures > Oil prices surge after Saudi air strikes in Yemen (Reporting by Atul Prakash)

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    Middle East stock markets, especially Saudi Arabia, may remain volatile on Thursday after the kingdom and its allies launched air strikes in Yemen, escalating the military conflict there. Warplanes attacked the Yemeni capital Sanaa's airport and its al Dulaimi military airbase on Thursday after the Houthi militia and its army allies advanced towards the city of Aden a day earlier.

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    Here are some factors that may affect Middle East stock markets on Thursday. INTERNATIONAL/REGIONAL. * GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares skid; oil climbs on Yemen escalation. * Oil prices surge after Saudi air strikes in Yemen. * MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi Arabia tumbles as Arab states consider Yemen intervention. * PRECIOUS-Gold holds gains from longest rally since 2012 on US rate hopes.

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    * Semi-conductor sector leads losses * Weak U.S. durable goods orders hit risk sentiment * Market cautious on developments in Yemen; oil firms gain * Many investors remain optimistic over Japan's economic outlook By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO, March 26 - Japan's Nikkei share average dropped on Thursday as investors sold semi-conductor and other hi-tech shares after their U.S. peers were sold off sharp...

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    Hong Kong stocks bounced between small gains and losses Thursday morning, taking cues from weaker U.S. markets and mixed corporate earnings reports. The Hang Seng Index erased opening losses and nudged higher by less than 0.1%, with the mainland-China-tracking Hang Seng China Enterprises off 0.3%. Bank of China Ltd. fell 0.7%, as its nonperforming loans jumped more than 30% last year and its bad-loan ratio rose to 1.18% from 0.96% a year ago, although it posted an 8% increase in...

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    * Oil up as Saudi Arabia launches military strikes on Yemen rebels. * Nikkei suffers sharpest fall in 10 weeks after Wall St drop. * Dollar uptrend pauses as US data darkens, EU brightens. * Activity light with blank indicator diary for Asia. By Wayne Cole.

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    * Dollar index softer, euro back near $1.10. * U.S. data and Fed comment not helpful for USD. * Commodity currencies underperform, hit by consolidation. By Ian Chua. The corrective bounce in the U.S. dollar faded again overnight, leaving the currency a shade lower early on Thursday in another hint the recent one-way bullish bet is on ice for now.

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    Debt relief could boost GDP with 0.5 percentage point a year. LONDON-- Further relief on Greece's whopping debt burden is needed to boost economic growth in the struggling nation, but it doesn't have to translate into losses for the eurozone lenders, Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras said on Wednesday. Speaking at an event at the London School of Economics, the governor highlighted that his country has already made progress in tackling its debt mountain, but that more needs...

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    * Canadian dollar at C$1.2517 or 79.89 U.S. cents * Bond prices mostly lower across the maturity curve By Solarina Ho TORONTO, March 25 - The Canadian dollar was marginally softer against its U.S counterpart on Wednesday, ahead of a much anticipated speech by Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz, on Thursday, and despite higher oil prices and a softer greenback.

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    * TSX ends down 151.89 points, or 1.01 percent, at 14,929.37. * Nine of 10 main index sectors decline. * Canadian Natural, Suncor are among most influential gainers. By Alastair Sharp. Canada's main stock index fell 1 percent on Wednesday, with heavyweight banks and insurers weighing, while a bounce in oil prices helped some of the country's biggest oil and gas producers.

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    Canada's main stock index ended sharply lower on Wednesday in a broad retreat led by heavyweight banking and insurance stocks, while a bounce in crude oil prices helped energy companies keep their heads above water. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 151.34 points, or 1.00 percent, at 14,929.92. Of the index's 10 main sectors, only energy avoided a fall.