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  • FRANKFURT, March 17- German utility company RWE is to sell its oil and gas unit DEA to investors led by Russia's second-richest man Mikhail Fridman, giving up a profitable part of its business in a bid to emerge from a deep energy industry crisis.

  • HAVANA, March 17- Cuba is laying plans to move to a single currency, a reform that many feel is one of the toughest challenges facing President Raul Castro as he tries to kick-start the Communist country's moribund economy.

  • The group sent a letter on Sunday to chief executive officers of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, supermarket operators Kroger Co, Safeway Inc, which operate pharmacies, and drugstore chains Walgreen Co and Rite Aid Corp.. Wal-Mart, Walgreen, Rite Aid and Kroger all said they were reviewing the letter, while Safeway did not respond to requests for comment.

  • NEW YORK, March 17- Like Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme itself, the trial of five of his former aides has been virtually unprecedented in its scope. A federal jury of 12 men and women on Monday began deciding whether the defendants are guilty of aiding in Madoff's massive fraud.

  • FACTBOX-European banks' exposure to Russia Monday, 17 Mar 2014 | 12:49 PM ET

    The European Union has imposed sanctions on some Russian officials and the EU and United States are expected to apply more economic penalties against Russia if a crisis over the Crimea escalates. Foreign banks have a limited role- the biggest are France's Societe Generale, Italy's UniCredit and Austria's Raiffeisen.

  • *Yen slides broadly as Russia sanctions seen as modest. The yen fell broadly after the United States and the European Union imposed what investors perceived to be only modest economic sanctions on some officials of Russia and Ukraine following Crimea's vote to join Moscow.

  • *Russia wants "support group" to make Ukraine neutral. SIMFEROPOL/ BRUSSELS, March 17- The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions including asset freezes and travel bans on a small group of officials from Russia and Ukraine after Crimea applied to join Russia on Monday following a weekend referendum.

  • March 17- Staar Surgical Co said an independent advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended marketing approval for its implantable lens, bringing it closer to a long-awaited U.S. launch and sending the company's shares up 27 percent.

  • *Sugar back on defensive after Brazil- driven rally. LONDON, March 17- Arabica coffee futures on ICE were lower on Monday, extending a retreat from last week's two-year high with the focus remaining on the extent of damage to Brazil's crop prospects from dry weather earlier this year.

  • LONDON, March 17- Glencore Xstrata could reach an agreement as soon as this week over the sale of its large Peruvian copper mine Las Bambas to a Chinese consortium led by Minmetals, two sources with knowledge of the situation said.

  • WASHINGTON, March 17- A top U.S. audit regulator is sounding the alarm over what she fears may be a false stamp of approval that some accounting firms are using as they market themselves to potential clients.

  • *New York state manufacturing expands in March. WASHINGTON, March 17- U.S. manufacturing output recorded its largest increase in six months in February and factory activity in New York state expanded early this month, the latest signs the economy was gaining momentum after being dampened by severe weather.

  • Banks, particularly in Europe, are traditionally the main supplier of loans but have become cautious as they focus on rebuilding their capital buffers. The European Union's executive European Commission is also keen to bring securitisation out of the cold and will publish its plans next week on ways to boost long-term financing.

  • HANOI, March 17- The European Union will launch negotiations this week for an investment pact with Myanmar, the EU's top trade representative said on Monday, a deal aimed at giving European firms preferential access to one of Asia's final frontier markets.

  • CALGARY, Alberta, March 17- Imperial Oil Ltd, Canada's No.3 oil and gas company, said on Monday Whitecap Resources Inc has agreed to buy some of its oil and gas properties in Western Canada for about C $855 million as it focuses on its oil sands and shale properties in the region.

  • Many in Russia hope the annexation of the southern Ukrainian region will offer only benefits and an opportunity to celebrate the "return home" of Russia's more than 1 million "brothers" after being handed to Ukraine 60 years ago.

  • UPDATE 5-Oil falls below $107 as Ukraine concern eases Monday, 17 Mar 2014 | 11:33 AM ET

    LONDON, March 17- Global oil prices fell below $107 a barrel on Monday on receding fears of an escalation of tension in Crimea after its vote to join Russia passed without major violence and U.S. and European sanctions appeared limited to individuals. "They're token sanctions because there isn't the appetite there to punish Russia significantly."

  • DETROIT, March 17- General Motors Co will take a $300 million charge primarily to cover the costs related to the faulty ignition switches linked to at least 12 deaths as well as three more recalls it announced on Monday.

  • Europe shares bounce back; U.S. data helps Monday, 17 Mar 2014 | 11:19 AM ET

    PARIS, March 17- European stocks rose on Monday, bouncing back from a three-week slide, helped by robust U.S. manufacturing data and after Crimea's vote to join Russia passed without violence.

  • CRUDE OIL FUTURES FALL MORE THAN $1 AFTER OBAMA COMMENTS ON UKRAINE DISPUTE.