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  • JERUSALEM, Feb 24- The Bank of Israel unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate on Monday for the first time since September, citing concerns over slowing economic growth, although analysts do not expect any more easing.

  • *Shares of U.S. health insurers rise, Humana up 9 pct. Feb 24- U.S. health insurers including Humana Inc said on Monday that the government's proposed cuts to privately run Medicare programs appear to represent a funding decline of around 4 percent, less than the possible cuts of 7 percent or deeper that analysts had been expecting.

  • Global dividends pass $1 trillion mark in 2013-study Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 12:24 PM ET

    *$1 in every $7 coming from emerging markets. LONDON, Feb 24- Shareholders received more than $1 trillion in global dividends for the first time in 2013, buoyed by growth in payouts from emerging market firms, a study showed.

  • Feb 24- Debt-laden Chinese solar company LDK Solar Co Ltd said it filed in the Cayman Islands for the appointment of provisional liquidators, four days before it is due to make a $197 million bond repayment. LDK Solar, which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands, has received several reprieves from investors on interest payments on the bond, which matures on Feb. 28.

  • SAO PAULO/ LONDON, Feb 24- Ukraine's dollar bonds rallimed on Monday on expectations the heavily indebted nation would receive aid from Western donors, while recovering investor sentiment helped Brazil's currency reach its strongest level in a month.

  • *Insurance stocks rise after Humana comments. *Men's Wearhouse raises offer for Jos. Gains were broad, with nine of the 10 S&P 500 sectors up on the day and a number of bellwethers, including Caterpillar Inc and Merck& Co, hitting 52- week highs.

  • France sees EU-China deal over wine trade dispute Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 11:59 AM ET

    PARIS, Feb 24- Europe and China are moving towards a compromise over a Chinese investigation into alleged European wine dumping, French Trade Minister Nicole Bricq said on Monday. Beijing opened the inquiry last July into whether Europe was selling wine in China at unfairly low prices. China has also said it is open to negotiate on the case.

  • The announcement, coupled with a report that auto maker Ford Motor Co plans to base its next-generation Sync system on BlackBerry's QNX operating system and no longer use Microsoft's Windows platform, helped send shares of BlackBerry up 8 percent in midday trading. Shares of BlackBerry rose 8.4 percent to $9.91 on Nasdaq following the news on Monday.

  • *UK could lose out on 200 bln pounds without new rules. LONDON, Feb 24- Britain said it would create a new oil and gas regulator which will help UK explorers speed up their search for hard-to-access fossil fuel resources in a bid to counter plunging North Sea production rates.

  • Brent oil was supported by production outages in Libya and South Sudan that curbed exports and tightened global supply.

  • *Offer of $9.73 per TriQuint share at 5.4 pct premium to Friday close. Feb 24- Chipmaker RF Micro Devices Inc will buy peer TriQuint Semiconductor Inc for about $1.6 billion to capture a larger share of the market for chips supplied to Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd..

  • *Raises offer to $63.50/ share from $57.50. Feb 24- Men's Wearhouse Inc pressed on with its bid for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc, boosting its offer by more than 10 percent in spite of the smaller company's effort to stay independent by buying outdoor clothing retailer Eddie Bauer. Men's Wearhouse raised its cash tender offer to Jos.

  • NEW YORK, Feb 24- Stocks on Wall Street surged to an all-time high on Monday, helping to lift global equities markets on optimism over merger activity, while crude oil prices rose on expectations of revived growth in the demand for oil.

  • European shares extend rally, buoyed by Spain Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 11:21 AM ET

    *FTSEurofirst 300, Euro STOXX 50 rise. *Spain gets boost from Moody's. LONDON, Feb 24- Demand for Spanish equities helped European shares to extend their rally on Monday to six-year highs, but worse-than-expected results from HSBC and a disappointing outlook from Volkswagen capped the gains.

  • JERUSALEM, Feb 24- The Bank of Israel unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate on Monday for the first time since September, citing concerns over slowing economic growth. The move came after data this month showed Israel's economy grew by an annualised 2.3 percent in the fourth-quarter, well below expectations.

  • TREASURIES-Prices steady as traders eye coming data Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 11:01 AM ET

    *Traders shrug off Ukraine, mixed overseas data. Treasuries' prices changed little on Monday, with trading in the safe-haven asset class unaffected by political upheaval in Ukraine and mixed readings from big economies such as those of Germany and China.

  • LONDON, Feb 24- Gold rose to a near four-month high on Monday, adding to last week's gains as investors grew more anxious about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery and China's growth.

  • UPDATE 2-Mobile messenger WhatsApp to add voice calls Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 10:44 AM ET

    BARCELONA, Feb 24- WhatsApp, the world's biggest mobile messaging service, is to add a voice call service for its 450 million customers, laying down a new challenge to telecom network operators just days after it was bought by Facebook for $19 billion.

  • US STOCKS-S&P 500 hits record in broad market rally Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 10:39 AM ET

    *Insurance stocks rise after Humana comments. *Men's Wearhouse raises offer for Jos. RF Micro Devices Inc agreed to buy TriQuint Semiconductor Inc for about $1.6 billion, while Men's Wearhouse Inc raised its cash tender offer for rival men's clothing retailer Jos.

  • HAVANA, Feb 24- Cuba continued to shed state jobs and move workers into the private sector in 2013, according to a report issued by the official labor federation at the weekend, as President Raul Castro pressed forward with reforms to the Soviet-style system.