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    Canada's main stock index was lower shortly after the open on Thursday, as declines among bank stocks offset moderate gains among energy and resource issues. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index fell 9.97 points, or 0.07 percent, to 15,294.8. Six of the index's 10 key sectors were trading lower.

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    Hershey Co (HSY) reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit due to weak sales growth in China and higher spending on advertising and marketing. The maker of Hershey's Kisses and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups cut its net sales growth forecast for 2015 for the second time, citing higher impact from a strong dollar. The company's shares fell 2.8 percent to $95.50 in premarket trading.

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    * U.S. dollar slightly higher, seeking trigger for new rally. By Patrick Graham. The New Zealand dollar was the biggest mover on major currency markets on Thursday, sinking 1.5 percent after a senior central banker pointed to the need for lower, not higher, interest rates.

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    * Pan-European FTSEurofirst index falls 0.8 pct. * PMI surveys depress market sentiment. * Ericsson, Bilfinger slump; Michelin surges. By Atul Prakash. European shares slipped on Thursday, with Germany's DAX index underperforming following a disappointing purchasing managers' survey while weak results from Ericsson hit technology stocks.

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    Mainland European stock indices declined on Thursday after disappointing eurozone purchasing managers' data cast doubt about the strength of the region's recovery. The first glimpse of Markit Economics's indices for the month of April showed the eurozone indices for both the manufacturing and services sector unexpectedly fell, with a poor showing from the main economies of Germany and France.

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    Turkey's lira hit new lows on Thursday, hurt by political tensions and the central bank's failure to deliver more currency-supportive measures, while emerging equity markets rose for a third day. Chinese bourses hit fresh 15-year highs and the MSCI emerging equities index was up 0.2 percent to within a whisker of seven-month highs reached on Friday.

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    Japanese stocks extend reach into 15- year high. Shares in Hong Kong slipped Thursday, after a reading showing manufacturing activity in China fell to a one-year low, indicating continued weakness in the economy. The Hang Seng Index lost 0.4% to 27,827.70, failing to close above 28,000 after climbing above that level intraday for a second day in a row.

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    * Bunds still set for one of worst weeks in 2015. * Euro zone PMI misses even lowest forecast. * Easing fears of Greece cash crunch help low-rated debt. By John Geddie. German bond yields clawed back a little of the ground lost in recent days after weak private sector growth data reaffirmed the size of the ECB's quantitative easing task in buttressing the euro zone's fragile recovery.

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    FTSE 250 could slide 10% or more. A correction is in store for U.K. equities as the market grapples with uncertainty surrounding what looks to be the tightest general election in generations, warn RBC Wealth Management analysts. That correction-- a decline of 10% or more from recent highs-- would be seen in the mid-cap FTSE 250, whose constituents tend to have greater exposure to the British economy than those on the blue-chip FTSE 100 index.

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    World shares weathered soft readings on Chinese and Japanese manufacturing on Thursday that merely drove expectations of more policy stimulus there, though lacklustre euro zone data was less well received.

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    * Pan-European FTSEurofirst index falls 0.5 pct. * PMI surveys depress market sentiment. * Ericsson, Bilfinger slump; Michelin surges. By Atul Prakash. European shares gave up early gains on Thursday after a survey showed growth in Germany's private sector slowed and French business activity barely grew in April.

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    * European shares slide after soft PMIs * Euro rebounds after taking hit on PMIs * China HSBC PMI dips to 49.2 in April from 49.6 * German, UK yields fall after Wednesday's sell-off * Wall Street set for subdued start By Marc Jones LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - World shares weathered soft readings on Chinese and Japanese manufacturing which served to recharge expectations of more policy stimulus there, though lacklustre euro zone data soured the mood on Thursday. European stock markets initially opened higher, spurred by multi-year highs in Asia, but sluggish euro zone and German purchasing manager data and conflicting numbers from France sent indexes into the red. Stock index futures suggested U.S. markets would maintain the negative trend. Overall, euro zone private sector business growth was weaker than forecast, despite help for exporters from a big fall in the euro and the launch in March of a sovereign bond buying programme from the European Central Bank. "Even though there is a clear improvement on the economic front in Europe ... the jury is still out," BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets' head of research, Philippe Gijsels, said. The euro headed lower against the dollar, though it picked up later while European bond markets steadied, with yields on both UK gilts and German Bunds falling after the bonds led a lively sell-off on Wednesday. The FTSEurofirst 300 equity index fell 0.9 percent. Asian stocks distracted investors from worries about Greece, hitting a 15-year peak in Japan, their highest for seven years in China and Taiwan and for nearly four years in South Korea. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan stood slightly higher, having earlier reached levels last seen in early 2008. The HSBC China manufacturing PMI hit a one-year trough , but that merely added to speculation that central banks in both countries would keep up stimulus. Japan's Nikkei ended up 0.3 percent, South Korea gained 1.4 percent and Shanghai stocks closed up 0.4 percent, with investors still emboldened by a commentary in state media saying the bull market "has just begun". "Investors only care about the attitude of the government, which has so far appeared tolerant (of the rise in markets)," said Du Changchun, analyst at Northeast Securities in Shanghai. DOLLAR RESILIENT With U.S PMIs and another batch of company earnings due later, early futures prices pointed to a subdued start for Wall Street after the previous session's 0.4-0.5 percent gains for the main U.S. markets. The dollar was on the rise again and sterling, which had jumped with UK gilt yields on Wednesday after minutes of the Bank of England's last policy meeting, was last down 0.3 percent at $1.4995. The New Zealand dollar shed 1.5 percent to $0.7663 after a central banker said rate cuts could be considered if domestic demand and inflationary pressures were to weaken. The euro fell as low as $1.0665 before rebounding to $1.0737, up 0.1 percent on the day. Traders remain sensitive to worries about Greece, but clear signals on that front are unlikely before Monday's Eurogroup meeting. "The U.S. data this afternoon and durable goods tomorrow may provide some more volatility ahead of the Fed meeting next week," said Piotr Pazio, a strategist with Rabobank in London. Against the yen, the dollar was firm around 120.06 and on track for its fourth straight session of gains. Spot gold nudged up to $1,189 an ounce after its sharpest single-session loss since March 6 on Wednesday. Oil prices were a fraction softer with Brent quoted at $62.71 a barrel, while U.S. crude dipped 20 cents to $55.96. (Additional reporting by Atul Prakash, Patrick Graham and Nigel Stephenson; editing by John Stonestreet/Ruth Pitchford)

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    * New Zealand dollar hammered by hint at lower rates. * U.S. dollar broadly higher, seeking trigger for new rally. By Patrick Graham. The New Zealand dollar was by far the biggest mover on major currency markets on Thursday, sinking 1.5 percent after a senior central banker pointed to the need for lower, not higher, interest rates.

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    Japanese government bonds fell on Thursday, pressured by an overnight selloff in U.S. Treasuries after a sharp rise in the yields on German Bunds. An auction of 40-year Japanese government bonds produced a highest accepted yield of 1.470 percent, with 33.2167 percent of the bids accepted at that yield, the Ministry of Finance said.

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    European shares rose towards 14-year highs on Thursday, with French tyre maker Michelin leading the automobile and auto parts sector higher after announcing its first-quarter results. Shares in Michelin rose 4.7 percent, the top gainer in the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index, after its first-quarter revenue rose 5.6 percent, boosted by a weaker euro.

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    German bond yields steadied on Thursday as investors wait to see if a closely watched business survey will provide signs of economic recovery across the bloc. Easing fears of an imminent default in Greece have seen investors return to riskier but higher-yielding bonds in recent days, partly reversing the seemingly unstoppable fall in safehaven German bond yields towards zero.

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    Japan's Nikkei becnhmark stock index closed 0.3. percent higher, having touched a 15-year intra-day high in morning trade, as investors bought large-cap and securities shares seen as undervalued and presenting strong earnings prospects.

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    Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening flat on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. * The UK blue chip index closed 0.5 percent lower at 7,028.24 points on Wednesday.

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    LONDON, April 23 (Reuters) - Financial spreadbetters predicted Britain's FTSE 100 to open flat, Germany's DAX to gain around 41 points, or as much as 0.35 percent, and France's CAC 40 to rise about 8 points, or as much as 0.15 percent, on Thursday. EUROPEAN COMPANIES REPORTING: Q1 2015 Anglo American PLC Production Report Q1 2015 WPP PLC Trading Statement Release Q1 2015 Pace PLC Interim Management Statement Release Computacenter PLC Interim Management Statement Release Meggitt PLC Trading Statement Release Cobham PLC Interim Management Statement Release Q1 2015 William Hill PLC Trading Statement Release Q1 2015 Acacia Mining PLC Earnings Release Q1 2015 Bankinter SA Earnings Release Q1 2015 Dassault Systemes SA Earnings Release Q1 2015 Metso Oyj Earnings Call Q1 2015 Technicolor SA Corporate Sales Release Repsol SA Sustainability Day - London Q1 2015 Amadeus Fire AG Earnings Release Q1 2015 Gruppo Editoriale l'Espresso SpA Earnings Release U.S. COMPANIES REPORTING : Q1 2015 Amazon.com Inc