*Hamas sticks to demand embargo on enclave be lifted. The Israeli military said its troops were fighting gunmen from Hamas, which runs Gaza, in the area and that it was investigating the incident.» Read More
*Latest China data points to slowing economy. *Ukraine tensions continue, Merkel warns Russia. NEW YORK, March 13- U.S. stocks edged lower on Thursday as earlier gains spurred by better-than-expected data on retail sales and the labor market were offset by worries over Ukraine and the health of China's economy.
*Electronic share of trade passes 50 pct for first time. *Driven by regulation, focus on costs, tech advances. LONDON, March 13- European equity investors are placing more orders via computers than through flesh-and-blood traders for the first time as new market rules drive more money managers to go high-tech and low cost.
Ghana's cedi remains vulnerable due to unmet dollar demand. Ghana's cedi could hit fresh record lows next week on persistent unmet dollar demand by local firms for their imports, analysts said. Data on Wednesday showed that Ghana's consumer inflation rate increased to 14.0 percent in January, the highest since March 2010.
SAO PAULO, March 13- France's Carrefour SA could raise as much as 5 billion reais from the sale of a stake in its Brazilian unit, one source with direct knowledge of the situation said, with potential bidders including Brazilian tycoon Abilio Diniz and a sovereign wealth fund.
BERLIN, March 13- Russia's Gazprom said it wanted Ukraine to be able to pay for gas supplies and did not want a "gas crisis" over prices and debt, a allusion to past disputes that led to cuts in gas flows from Russia to Europe.
*Iran wants economic sanctions lifted. LONDON/ ANKARA, March xx- Despite a diplomatic thaw, Western banks are steering clear of attempts by Iran to get them involved in financing humanitarian transactions, fearing they could be penalised under U.S. sanctions, bankers and government officials told Reuters.
*Ukraine, China slowdown and copper rout sap risk appetite. NEW YORK, March 13- World stock indexes edged lower on Thursday on lingering concerns over China's economy and tensions in Ukraine, while the euro hit a new 2-1/ 2- year high against the dollar.
*Gold earlier hit $1,374.85/ oz after breaking resistance. LONDON, March 13- Gold retreated from six-month highs on Thursday after stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs and retail sales data lifted the dollar off early lows, but prices were underpinned by tensions surrounding Russia's standoff over Ukraine.
NEW YORK, March 13- The euro rose to 2-1/ 2- year highs against the dollar on Thursday in the wake of the European Central Bank's avoidance of further stimulus, signalling some confidence the region has put recession and its debt crisis behind. Among other major currencies, the New Zealand and Australian dollars surged.
SHANGHAI, March 13- Growing jitters about the financial health of bloated industries in China have prompted many banks to cut lending in these sectors by as much as 20 percent, banking and industry sources with knowledge of the matter said.
PARIS, March 13- Renault was braced on Thursday for a strike at its in-house dealerships that may cause a wobble in the French carmaker's recovery from a long slump in auto demand. Renault vowed to keep all dealerships open throughout the two-day industrial action and serve all customers.
LONDON, March 13- Royal Dutch Shell will cut spending by a fifth and lay off staff at its American exploration and production business, the company said on Thursday, in another sign that oil majors are struggling to profit from the booming U.S. shale sector.
HONG KONG, March 13- Ping An, China's second largest insurer by market value, posted an albeit lower than expected 40.4 percent rise in annual earnings on Thursday, as investment income surged on the back of a recovery in China's stock market. Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd made a net profit of 28.15 billion yuan in the year ended Dec. 31.
March 13- Venaxis Inc said its appendicitis test correctly predicted results in 97 percent of patients in a clinical trial, sending its shares up 44 percent to a nearly two-year high. Venaxis, formerly known as AspenBio Pharma, received marketing approval for the APPY1 test in Europe in January 2013.
WASHINGTON, March 13- U.S. retail sales rebounded in February and new applications for unemployment benefits hit a fresh three-month low last week, suggesting some strength in the economy after harsh weather abruptly slowed activity in recent months.
MOSCOW, March 13- Russian energy company Soyuzneftegaz hopes that deals can be concluded to develop oil and gas in peaceful regions of Syria even if civil war is still raging elsewhere, its chairman said.
*UK, France, Switzerland seen in strong position as market takes off. LONDON/ ZURICH, March 13- Biotech fever is spreading to Europe from the United States with a successful stock market debut for a cat allergy company in Britain seen as a bellwether that could help unlock listings in other countries including Switzerland and France.
The shuttering of Herculaneum in the town of the same name was a historic moment, bringing the curtain down on 120 years of lead smelting in Missouri.
BERLIN, March 13- German automaker Volkswagen will reinforce steps to boost earnings in coming years as its long-planned target to increase sales to over 10 million cars a year is almost met.
Treasuries prices edged lower on Thursday on better-than-expected U.S. retail sales and jobless claims data, but lingering concerns over China's economy and geopolitical tensions in Russia and Ukraine limited losses.