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Firm: Belgium's Ablynx in Merck Cancer Research Tie-Up

Belgian biotechnology company Ablynx said on Monday it has signed a cancer research cooperation accord with U.S. pharmaceuticals giant Merck & Co. which could be worth up to 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion).

The contract, to identify proteins which may lead to cancer immunotherapy treatments, involves an initial payment of 20 million euros plus 10.7 million euros for the three-year research program.

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Lloyds Bank Takes Extra £2.0bn Hit Over Mis-Selling

Britain's state-rescued bank Lloyds said Monday it will take an extra hit of almost £2.0 ($3.3 billion, 2.4 billion euros) to cover mis-selling claims, but expected to make a "small" annual profit.

Lloyds, which is 33-percent owned by the taxpayer, added it would seek to resume shareholder dividend payments in the second half of this year, while the lender was preparing for the government to sell more of its stake.

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Etihad in 'Final' Assessment for Alitalia Buy

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said Sunday it has entered the final stage of an assessment whether to purchase a stake in Italy's debt-laden airline Alitalia.

The two carriers "have entered the final phase of a due diligence process about a possible investment by Etihad Airways in Alitalia," confirmed James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad Airways, and Gabriele Del Torchio, his Alitalia counterpart, according to a statement by Etihad.

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Govt: China's Manufacturing Index Falls in January

China's official gauge of its manufacturing sector slipped to a five-month low in January, the government announced Saturday, confirming a slowdown in factory activity in the world's second largest economy.

The monthly purchasing managers' index (PMI) declined to 50.5 in January after recording 51 in December and 51.4 in November, according to the government's National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.

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Record 2.85 Million Chinese Visited Taiwan in 2013

Taiwan said Saturday a record 2.85 million Chinese nationals visited the island last year, up ten percent from 2012 although group arrivals dropped slightly after Beijing enacted a tourism law.

The number of solo Chinese travelers surged 174 percent to 522,000 people compared with 191,000 in 2012, the government said.

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Economy Chief Says Russia Survived 'Low Point'

Russia's economy chief said on Friday that the country had survived the worst of its sharp growth slowdown and was on the path toward cautious expansion in the coming year.

Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said he thought Russia's $1.1-trillion economy had suffered its most dire phase in the fall of 2013 and that agriculture and industry were now both picking up steam.

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Eurostat: Eurozone Inflation Turns Down again in January

Eurozone inflation fell to 0.7 percent in January from 0.8 percent in December, official data showed on Thursday amid concerns that falling prices could undermine growth.

A flash estimate from the Eurostat statistics office showed year-on-year inflation in the 18-nation eurozone dropping from 2.0 percent in January 2013 after falling steadily in recent months.

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Spain's BBVA Bank Enjoys 2013 Profit Surge

Spanish banking group BBVA, one of the nation's largest, announced Friday a 33-percent leap in net profit for 2013 despite suffering losses in the final quarter.

BBVA said net profit for the whole of 2013 climbed 32.9 percent year-over-year to 2.23 billion euros ($3 billion), as it joined a recovery in the top ranks of the Spanish banking sector.

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Google Poised to Execute Long-Delayed Stock Split

Google is finally ready to split its stock for the first time, more than three years after co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin began discussing a move engineered to ensure they remain in control of the Internet's most powerful company.

The split is scheduled to occur April 2. It had been delayed because of staunch resistance from other Google Inc. shareholders, who feared the maneuver would unfairly benefit Page and Brin at the expense of just about everyone else.

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IMF Releases Delayed $500M in Funding for Tunisia

Tunisia's economy minister has announced that the International Monetary fund has released half a billion dollars in delayed funding following the formation of the country's new interim government.

Hakim Ben Hammouda told the state news agency that the IMF had agreed late Wednesday to release $507 million dollars that had originally been promised in September.

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