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Energy may see further weakness as key names report
The group has been falling alongside crude oil prices, which are down about 60 percent since June. For the full year, earnings are seen down almost 45 percent, nearly twice the decline of 23.3 percent forecast on Jan. 1.

Obama targets foreign profits with tax proposal, Republicans skeptical
By Jeff Mason and Kevin Drawbaugh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget will seek new taxes on trillions of dollars in profits accumulated overseas by U.S. companies, and a new approach to taxing foreign profits in the future, but Republicans were skeptical of the plan on Sunday. Reviving a long-running debate about corporate tax avoidance, Obama will target a loophole that lets companies pay no tax on earnings held abroad, the White House said. In his budget plan to be unveiled on Monday, Obama will call for a one-time, 14 percent tax on an estimated $2.1 trillion in profits piled up abroad over the years by multinationals such as General Electric , Microsoft , Pfizer Inc and Apple Inc . He will also seek to impose a 19 percent tax on U.S. companies' future foreign earnings, the White House said.

Justice Department probing Moodys for mortgage deal grades: WSJ
The federal probe of the ratings agency, a unit of Moody's Corp , comes as the Justice Department nears a settlement with Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, a unit of McGraw Hill Financial Inc , over similar conduct, the Journal reported. Justice Department officials could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters on Sunday. Former Moody's executives and Justice Department officials have been meeting to discuss ratings of complex securities prior to the 2008 financial crisis, the Journal reported.

CRH confirms $7.34 billion deal to buy assets from Lafarge SA, Holcim: WSJ
(Reuters) - Irish building materials company CRH Plc confirmed that it agreed to pay $7.34 billion for assets from cement companies Lafarge SA and Holcim Ltd , the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. CRH will fund the deal with cash, debt and a 9.99 percent equity placing, the Journal reported. A Holcim spokesman confirmed that the company received a binding offer from CRH, according to the Journal. The newspaper reported on Saturday that Lafarge and Holcim were nearing a deal to sell at least $7 billion in assets, citing people familiar with the matter.

Ford CFO says sees ongoing problems in Russia: Handelsblatt
The finance chief of Ford Motor Co expects ongoing problems in Russia where the decline of the rouble and the struggling economy was weighing on its market share, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt. Russia's currency and economic woes were cited last week by Ford as major reasons the company lowered expectations for its European business in 2015. Other carmakers have incurred losses and closed production plants in Russia for the same reason. "2015 does not look good," Ford's Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks was quoted as saying about Russia in an interview to be published on Monday.

Feds solid growth view faces test as Greek drama unfolds
By Philip Blenkinsop BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve's upgraded view that growth in the world's biggest economy is "solid", and so capable of withstanding an interest rate rise this year, will be put to the test by U.S. jobs data this week. The Federal Reserve last week lifted its assessment of the U.S. expansion to "solid" from "moderate", with jobs growth now seen as "strong". "Interest rates then were 6 percent. In an encouraging sign, the more widely respected Employment Cost Index, released on Friday, showed labour costs increased by 2.2 percent in the 12 months through December, although still below the 3 percent economists say is needed to bring inflation close to the Fed's 2 percent target.

U.S. regulators recall 2.1 million vehicles in new air bag issue
The auto industry's air bag troubles deepened on Saturday as U.S. federal safety regulators said three big automakers will recall about 2.1 million older vehicles to fix defects that could cause air bags to deploy when they are not supposed to. The vehicles involved in the recall announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are made by Toyota Motor Corp, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Honda Motor Co. There have been about 400 reported cases of inadvertent air bag deployments in the recalled vehicles, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. The recall concerned a defective chip in air bag systems and the fix involved replacing the entire air bag module, including circuits manufactured by parts maker TRW Automotive Holdings, Rosekind said.

China factory sector jolts by shrinking in January
By Koh Gui Qing BEIJING (Reuters) - China's factory sector unexpectedly shrank for the first time in nearly 2-1/2 years in January and firms see more gloom ahead, an official survey showed, raising expectations that policymakers will take more action to forestall a sharper slowdown. The official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 49.8 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday, a low last seen in September 2012 and a whisker below the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. Most of the PMI indexes "showed a downward trend, indicating that current economic growth is still in a downtrend," said Zhang Liqun, an economist at the Development Research Center, a state think-tank. Some economists said the January reading was especially downbeat as it suggested that factories did not enjoy a usual spike in business before China's annual Spring Festival holiday, which falls in mid-February this year.

Greece seeks to reassure Europe as tensions rise
By James Mackenzie and Renee Maltezou ATHENS (Reuters) - New Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, striking a conciliatory note on debt talks after a turbulent start to office, has called the European Central Bank chief to assure him that Athens was seeking an agreement. The new government in Athens made clear from its first day in power that it would not back down on its election pledges to abandon the austerity policies imposed under the bailout agreement sealed by the last government.

Germany, ECB play hardball with Greece
By Paul Carrel and Jussi Rosendahl BERLIN/HELSINKI (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out a debt writedown for Greece on Saturday, and a European Central Bank policymaker threatened to cut off funding to Greek banks if Athens does not agree to renew its bailout package. The euro zone's paymaster and the ECB are both taking a tough line with Greece's new leftist government, whose leader swept to victory last Sunday promising that five years of austerity, "humiliation and suffering" were over. Alexis Tsipras has also promised to renegotiate agreements with the European Commission, ECB and International Monetary Fund "troika" and write off much of Greece's 320 billion euro ($360 billion) debt, which at more than 175 percent of gross domestic product is the world's second-highest after Japan.

US stock market wavers in early trading
NEW YORK (AP) — A pair of better economic reports helped nudge the U.S. stock market up in early trading Thursday, even as global markets headed lower.

General strike shuts down services across Greece
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Services across Greece shut down Wednesday as unions staged a 24-hour general strike and held peaceful demonstrations to protest further austerity cuts in the cash-strapped country.

Unemployment rates fall in two-thirds of US states
Unemployment rates fell in two-thirds of U.S. states last month, evidence that modest economic growth is boosting hiring in most areas of the country.

US stocks edge higher in afternoon trading
Stocks were on track to finish higher Thursday afternoon for the second day in a row as investors drew encouragement from reports on Chinese manufacturing, U.S. home sales and some positive earnings from Best Buy, Dollar Tree and other retailers.

US stocks edge higher in midday trading
Major stock indexes shifted higher in midday trading Thursday, getting a lift from an encouraging report on Chinese manufacturing and some positive earnings from Best Buy, Dollar Tree and other retailers. The market also got a boost from data showing modest improvement in sales of previously occupied homes.