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  • HONG KONG, March 31- Executives from Evergrande Real Estate Group painted a rosier picture of China's real estate market than their peers after the company posted a 49 percent rise in net profit and outpaced analyst estimates for core profit.

  • *C/A surplus $5.07 bln in Feb vs $0.22 bln surplus in Jan. BANGKOK, March 31- Thailand's economy will likely post its first contraction in a year as consumption and investment fall, the central bank said on Monday, reflecting how prolonged political unrest is deepening the toll on Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.

  • March 31- Logistics company UTi Worldwide Inc reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, hurt by weak demand for air freight. Net loss attributable to UTi Worldwide narrowed to $50.7 million, or 48 cents per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31 from $142.8 million, or $1.38 per share, a year earlier.

  • BERLIN, March 31- Hundreds of workers at online retailer Amazon in Germany went on strike on Monday, the first stoppage this year in a pay dispute that has been dragging on for months. A spokesman for the Verdi labour union said about 500 of the around 1,200 workers at Amazon's distribution centre in Leipzig were expected to strike.

  • SYDNEY/ HONG KONG, March 31- Earlier this month, the chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, Charles Li, was eager to talk about anything but the years-long warehousing crisis at the London Metal Exchange.

  • March 31- Comcast Corp is planning to increase its share buyback plan by more than 80 percent as its $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable Inc undergoes regulatory review in the coming weeks, Bloomberg reported.

  • Prana says drug fails Alzheimer's disease study Monday, 31 Mar 2014 | 6:26 AM ET

    March 31- Prana Biotechnology Ltd said its experimental drug to treat Alzheimer's disease failed to meet the main goal of a mid-stage study in patients with a mild form of the condition. The company's shares fell about 38 percent to $6.13 in premarket trade on Monday.

  • SIMFEROPOL, Crimea, March 31- Russia will make Crimea a special economic zone offering tax breaks and reduced bureaucracy to attract investors, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday.

  • *Hopes bolstered after Beijing says ready to support economy. LONDON, March 31- Copper was down slightly after earlier hitting a two-week high on Monday, following a 2.8 percent gain last week, as investors were wary of China's tighter credit conditions despite hopes Beijing would stimulate its economy.

  • *Up to 100 mln pounds for new drug manufacturing in Africa. *GSK looks at Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia for new factories. France's Sanofi has also highlighted Africa as a promising growth market.

  • "Our aim is to make the peninsula as attractive as possible to investors, so that it can generate sufficient income for its own development," Medvedev told a Russian government meeting on the Black Sea peninsula, which Moscow has annexed from Ukraine.

  • BRUSSELS, March 31- Euro zone inflation hit its lowest level since November 2009 in March, a shock drop that raises expectations the European Central Bank will take radical action to stop the threat of deflation in currency bloc.

  • BANGKOK, March 31- Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday showed up to defend herself against charges linked to a ruinous government rice pledging scheme that could lead to her removal from office, the latest development in a political crisis that has gripped the country for months.

  • ZURICH, March 31- Switzerland's competition commission WEKO said on Monday it had opened an investigation into several Swiss, British and U.S. banks over potential collusion to manipulate foreign exchange rates. WEKO said it is investigating UBS, Credit Suisse, Zuercher Kantonalbank, Julius Baer, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland.

  • Fukushima operator to cut costs, investments Monday, 31 Mar 2014 | 5:42 AM ET

    TOKYO, March 31- Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, said on Monday it plans to cut 576.1 billion yen of costs over a 1- year period and 1.3 trillion yen over three years.

  • *OSN TV unit operates in North Africa and the Middle East. Valued last year at $4.3 bln by Arqaam Capital. The OSN network operates in the Middle East and North Africa.

  • BEIJING, March 31- China's Foreign Ministry on Monday it welcomed comments by the U.S. defence chief saying the United States would exercise restraint in using the military in cyberspace, but added Beijing hoped Washington would match its words with actual policy.

  • *National Front wins 11 town halls. *FN leader Le Pen: party can take lead in EU elections. PARIS, March 31- President Francois Hollande will make a televised statement on his government as early as Monday, a close ally said, after a local poll drubbing for his party handed the far-right victory in a record number of French towns.

  • *C.bank may let yuan depreciate to 6.25/ dollar- traders. SHANGHAI, March 31- China's yuan closed weaker against the dollar on Monday and posted its second-biggest monthly loss on record as the central bank kept up strong pressure on speculators and sought to curb hot money inflows.

  • Euro zone March inflation falls to lowest since 2009 Monday, 31 Mar 2014 | 5:00 AM ET

    BRUSSELS, March 31- Euro zone inflation in March was at the its lowest level since November 2009, a shock drop that was below forecasts and raises expectations for the European Central Bank to take radical action to stop deflation in the currency bloc.