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Exclusive: Altice seeks financing for Time Warner Cable bid: sources

SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON (Reuters) – French telecommunications group Altice SA is talking to several banks about raising debt for a potential bid for Time Warner Cable Inc, the second-largest U.S. cable operator, according to people familiar with the matter. The talks are an important step for Altice in putting together a bid for Time Warner Cable, which is also being courted by Charter Communications Inc after Comcast Corp abandoned its $45.2 billion offer for Time Warner Cable last month over U.S. antitrust concerns. Altice is in discussions with banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Nomura Co Ltd, BNP Paribas SA, Societe Generale, Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Canada about a financing package to support a proposed acquisition, the people said.

Asia stocks follow global surge, dollar on defensive

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.4 percent. Wall Street shares posted sizeable gains overnight on several strong corporate earnings results and the pan-European Eurofirst 300 index of leading shares climbed to a 14-year high after the European Central Bank affirmed its loose policy stance. “Even if the actual number is in line with expectations, it will be enough to reinforce the view that the U.S. economic slowdown during winter was a temporary one, and thus support the dollar,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, senior strategist at Monex Securities in Tokyo. “If the dollar is to rise, it will gain more against the euro and Australian dollar rather than the yen as Japanese authorities have not exactly welcomed a further weakening,” he said.

Data brings more focus on timing of U.S. rate hike

U.S. stock investors may be bracing for further signs next week that the Federal Reserve could increase interest rates sooner rather than later, with retail sales expected to rebound after two straight months of declines. A pickup in retail sales could show consumers are benefiting from sharply lower oil prices, but analysts say spending in February was likely curbed by unusually harsh weather in parts of the United States. Among them, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker repeated his view that the Fed should raise rates in June.

Fed upbeat on U.S. economy, cites strong job gains

By Michael Flaherty and Howard Schneider WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve on Wednesday said the U.S. economy was expanding “at a solid pace” with strong job gains in a signal that the central bank remains on track with its plans to raise interest rates this year. The Fed repeated it would be “patient” in deciding when to raise benchmark borrowing costs from zero, though it also acknowledged a decline in certain inflation measures. After a two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, policymakers struck an upbeat tone on the U.S. economy's prospects and held to their view that energy-led weakness in inflation would dissipate. “The committee, in fact, was downright bullish on current economic conditions and the outlook,” said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight.

North Korea denies hacking Sony

By Jack Kim and Steve Holland SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea has said U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were “groundless slander,” and that it wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States. The United States stands by its assertion that North Korea was to blame, a White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman said on Saturday, in response to the remarks. U.S. …

Europe markets pull back on FX settlement after Japan stocks climb

By Lionel Laurent LONDON (Reuters) – European shares and core bond yields fell on Wednesday, bucking a strong performance in Japan, with bank stocks under pressure following a landmark $3.4 billion settlement over allegations of price-fixing in currency markets. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 equity index was down 0.6 percent at 0852 GMT, while the STOXX Europe 600 banks index was down more than 1 percent. Regulators imposed penalties totaling $3.4 billion on UBS , Citigroup , HSBC , Royal Bank of Scotland and JP Morgan . …

Want to get back into stocks? Check junk spreads first

By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) – A positive vibe returned to the U.S. stock market Friday, leaving some to wonder if, after two weeks of losses, the latest selloff scare was over. The best clues may come from what happens to low-quality corporate bonds. The most recent decline in the S&P 500 marks the third time in six months that the market has looked wobbly and threatened a significant reversal. Each time, so far, it has bounced back quickly. But what has some investors most worried this time around is the recent, notable underperformance in junk bonds in the past few months. ..

Exclusive: Microsoft CEO Nadella to visit China amid antitrust probe – source

By Gerry Shih and Paul Carsten BEIJING (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is set to visit China in late September, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday, as the Chinese government conducts an antitrust investigation into the world's largest software company. It is not clear if Nadella, who took over as Microsoft CEO in February, will meet with any Chinese government representatives as part of his visit, or try to resolve issues with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), one of China's antitrust regulators.

Is Germany still the champion?

By Philip Blenkinsop BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A week on from its World Cup soccer victory, Germany may return to center stage, though this time not with fan celebrations but concerns over the health of Europe's economic motor. “We've seen a delayed impact of China and the Ukraine crisis,” said ING economist Carsten Brzeski. The Ukraine/Russia issue was already there.” In a week relatively light on U.S. indicators, economists are looking for further signs that Europe's recovery and even German growth may be stalling, putting more pressure on the European Central Bank to act. Across the Channel, minutes from the Bank of England may be the last to show unanimous backing for a stable bank rate of 0.5 percent.