U.S. labor market strengthening; mid-Atlantic manufacturing slows

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, touching its lowest level in nearly five months, suggesting strong job gains that should continue to underpin economic growth.

While other data on Thursday showed a moderation in factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region in July, manufacturers were upbeat about b

Exxon sues U.S. over fine levied for Russia deal under Tillerson

WASHINGTON/HOUSTON - Exxon Mobil Corp  sued the U.S. government on Thursday, blasting as "unlawful" and "capricious" a $2 million fine levied against it for a three-year-old oil joint venture with Russia's Rosneft 

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday morning slapped the world's largest publicly traded oil producer with the fi

Benetton family seeks to make Ducati motorbikes Italian: sources

By Pamela Barbaglia, Arno Schuetze and Massimo Gaia

LONDON/FRANKFURT/MILAN - Italy's Benetton family is vying with motorbike firms and buyout funds for control of Italian motorcycle brand Ducati, which is being sold by Germany's Volkswagen, sources involved in the process told Reuters.

Volkswagen, whose Audi division controls Ducati, has received sev

Alibaba`s revenue to jump 45-48 pct this year: executive chairman

NAIROBI  - China's Alibaba expects its revenue to expand by 45 to 48 percent in its fiscal year from April as more small businesses join its online community in search of sales, Executive Chairman Jack Ma said on Thursday.

Alibaba had revenue of $22.99 billion in its year to the end of March.

"Our revenue this year, we will still have 45-48 per

Britain`s Jaguar Land Rover opens first overseas engine plant

LONDON  - Jaguar Land Rover  opened its first overseas engine plant on Friday, picking China for the investment a week after saying it would build a global model entirely outside Britain for the first time.

Britain's biggest carmaker, which already operates a plant in China as part of a partnership with Chery , said the new facility was part of a 10.9 bi

Dollar near two-year lows vs euro after Draghi comments

TOKYO - The dollar headed for weekly losses on Friday, wallowing at its lowest levels against the euro in nearly two years after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said policymakers would discuss changing its bond-buying programme in the autumn.

The dollar index , which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was flat on the day at 94.316, not

Microsoft profit beats expectations on strong cloud demand

SAN FRANCISCO- Microsoft on Thursday reported strong fourth-quarter earnings on the back of its fast-growing cloud computing business, stoking optimism that the once-stagnant company has found a new groove.

The results were the clearest sign yet that the strategy put in place by Chief Executive Satya Nadella when he assumed the top job in 2014 is paying off. He has sh

Euro at two-year high, Asian shares barely budge

TOKYO- The euro held near two-year highs against the dollar on Friday after the head of the European Central Bank said tapering of its stimulus will be on the table this autumn, while a solid global economic outlook kept Asian share prices near decade highs.

While ECB President Mario Draghi set no date for changes to the bond-buying plan, investors took his comments o

China says U.S. talks covered joint efforts on excess steel capacity

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON - Seeking a more positive spin on U.S.-China economic talks viewed as ending in discord, China said on Thursday that the two sides agreed to "active and effective measures" to reduce global excess steel production capacity.

The statement issued a day after the talks by the Chinese embassy in Washington did not elaborate o

Euro, bond yields climb as Draghi flags tightening talks in autumn

LONDON - The euro rose towards a 14-month peak against the dollar on Thursday and European bond yields hit highs for the day after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said policymakers would discuss possible changes to its bond-buying scheme in the autumn.

Though Draghi said that no date had been set for discussing any changes to the programme and that ECB rate-s

Citigroup says may need to create 150 jobs in EU due to Brexit

LONDON - U.S. bank Citigroup said on Thursday that it may need to create 150 new jobs in the European Union to deal with the impact of Britain leaving the bloc, as it confirmed it would headquarter its EU trading operations in Frankfurt.

In a memo to staff Jim Cowles, the bank's head of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said the bank also planned to build up

Russia`s inflation fight may be lost in the mud of a vegetable plot

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Attempts by Russia's central bank to bring inflation to a post-Soviet low of 4 percent this year may come down to the price of vegetables.

Heavy rain and cold weather have hammered crops, sending up prices. The impact on inflation won't be known, agriculture specialists say, until autumn when it becomes clear whether production was reduced or only delayed by

A Greek debt market foray should be step to full return, government says

ATHENS - Greece will seek to ensure seamless market access when its bailout programme expires next year, its government spokesman said on Thursday, as speculation grew that the country's first debt market foray in three years was imminent.

"We are closely monitoring developments in bond markets, we are monitoring trends, and when we consider the time is right

ECB sticks to easy money pledge despite better growth

FRANKFURT  - The European Central Bank left its ultra easy monetary policy stance unchanged as expected on Thursday, keeping rates at record lows and even leaving the door open to more asset buys if the outlook worsens.

Having raised the prospect of policy tightening last month, Thursday's inaction was likely to signal that any policy tweaks would come only s

ABB CEO faces pressure to improve profitability

ZURICH - ABB Chief Executive Ulrich Spiesshofer faces pressure to tackle lower profitability at the Swiss engineering company, after higher raw material prices and overcapacity issues dented its quarterly earnings.

The power transmission and industrial automation company reported a smaller than expected increase in net profit on Thursday, taking the shine off an upswi

Sunshine lifts UK retail sales, points to brighter growth

LONDON  - Sunny weather brought British shoppers out and led to stronger retail sales than expected in June, shaking off a gloomy start to the year and suggesting the broader economy may be regaining speed after an early 2017 lull.

More recent data have been mixed, as consumers feel squeezed by higher inflation largely driven by sterling's fall after last yea

Blackstone raising at least $3 billion in first Asia PE fund - sources

HONG KONG - Blackstone Group LP is seeking to raise up to $3 billion in its first Pan-Asia buyout fund for investments in sectors including high-end manufacturing and healthcare, people familiar with the plan told Reuters.

The New York-based firm has informed its limited partners about the plan and it aims to lock in the first tranche of investment for the fund by the

Unilever lifts margin target after first-half improvement

By Martinne Geller

LONDON - Unilever lifted its annual profitability target on Thursday after cost cuts led to a big improvement in the first half of the year, showing it can boost returns after rebuffing a $143 billion takeover bid.

The savings at Unilever come as the packaged goods industry's biggest names, including Nestle and Procter & Gamble, ar

Britain still likely to refer Murdoch`s Sky deal for further scrutiny

LONDON - Britain said on Thursday it still intended to refer Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy pay-TV group Sky for further scrutiny to assess whether it would give the media mogul too much influence.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, who is weighing whether to send the deal for an investigation, said she had to consider new evidence before taking a final decision, which

UK to lift electronics ban on Turkey flights

The UK will lift restrictions on large electronic devices being carried as cabin luggage on direct flights from Turkey, officials said here on Thursday.

A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told state-run Anadolu news agency that British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson had phoned his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu over the issue.

The source said John

Global shares rise, euro near 14-month high ahead of ECB

LONDON - World shares extended a run of record highs on Thursday, as a cautious sounding Bank of Japan lifted Asian stocks to a near decade peak and Europe wagered on an incremental increase in confidence from the ECB at its latest meeting.

The euro was near a 14-month high and investors were riding a global rally in stocks as Asia's and then Europe's early 0.

Ford`s `golden noses` seek edge in slowing China car market

NANJING, China - While Western drivers like the 'new car' smell fresh off the production line, Chinese would rather their cars didn't smell of anything - a cultural divide that's testing car makers seeking an edge to revive sales in the world's biggest auto market.

At Ford Motor Co, for example, 18 smell assessors - dubbed "golden noses"

Fintech charmed by Macron but reluctant to leave London for Paris

PARIS - France's fast-growing fintech sector is optimistic the country's dynamic new president will push it up the global rankings. But startups based in London do not yet seem ready to swap that key hub for Paris, even if they have French roots.

The nascent industry, ranging from mobile payment apps to "cryptocurrencies" like bitcoin, is seen by gov

ECB to lay groundwork for autumn policy shift

FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank is expected to lay the groundwork for an autumn policy shift on Thursday, emphasising improved growth while tempering expectations after previously setting off a mini tantrum in financial markets.

ECB President Mario Draghi opened the door to policy tweaks in a speech in Sintra, Portugal, last month that was viewed as unexpectedly

Samsung heiress ordered to pay $7.6 million in divorce ruling

SEOUL- A Seoul court on Thursday ordered Samsung Group heiress Lee Boo-jin to provide assets of 8.6 billion won ($7.64 million) to her estranged husband in a divorce from the ex-employee of a Samsung affiliate.

Lee, the 46-year-old chief executive of Hotel Shilla and daughter of ailing Samsung Group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, received sole custody of their son in the ruli