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  • *Deal would mean big payday for Zale shareholder Golden Gate Capital. Feb 19- Signet Jewelers Ltd is buying smaller rival Zale Corp for about $690 million, an acquisition it said would strengthen its place in the U.S. jewelry sector and let it tap new markets. The price of $21 per share is a 41 percent premium over Zale's close on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

  • *Brazil coffee crop worries after 6 weeks of hot, dry weather. NEW YORK/ LONDON, Feb 19- ICE arabica coffee prices catapulted to 16- month highs on Wednesday, extending the previous day's huge gains as investors piled into the market driven by worry over possible drought damage to crops in top grower Brazil and by bullish chart signals.

  • *Paris, Berlin agree derivatives should be covered. PARIS, Feb 19- France and Germany agreed that a planned pan-European tax on financial transactions should cover all derivatives products, a source close to French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Wednesday.

  • Feb 19- Canadian miner Sherritt International Corp reported a bigger fourth-quarter loss as it took an impairment charge related to the pending sale of its coal operations, and the company slashed its quarterly dividend.

  • *USDA still pays up to two-thirds of insurance premiums. CHICAGO, Feb 19- U.S. farmers and bankers have almost a year to get ready for major changes in 2015 as crop insurance rather than direct cash payments to producers becomes the centerpiece of farm policy under the five-year farm bill signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month.

  • *Fed minutes due at 2:00 p.m. EST. NEW YORK, Feb 19- U.S. stocks declined on Wednesday in midday trading as the S&P 500 faced a technical resistance level after a recent string of gains and investors turned cautious ahead of the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting.

  • *Teva, Ranbaxy to pay $150,000 each to settle with New York State. Feb 18- The New York Attorney General and the U.S. units of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd have settled claims that an agreement between the two drugmakers unlawfully restricted competition.

  • FRANKFURT, Feb 19- Deutsche Bank is close to a 900 million euro deal to settle a dispute with the heirs of late media mogul Leo Kirch, a move that would end an acrimonious courtroom battle that has dogged German's largest bank for more than a decade.

  • CARACAS, Feb 19- A student demonstrator died of a bullet-wound on Wednesday in the fifth fatality from Venezuela's political unrest, as imprisoned protest leader Leopoldo Lopez urged supporters to keep fighting for the departure of the socialist government.

  • European shares stage afternoon rally, led by Morrisons Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014 | 12:32 PM ET

    *Carlsberg, Lafarge shrug off EM hit with strong updates. *Tenaris, Vallourec pummelled by U.S. import tariff ruling. LONDON, Feb 19- European shares pared early losses in late trade on Wednesday, tracking a rally in Wall Street, with WM Morrison gaining in the afternoon after a report that the grocer may be taken over by private-equity firms.

  • The Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday it will not appeal a U.S. court decision that last month rejected a previous version of these so-called net neutrality rules largely because of the way the FCC had classified broadband providers.

  • *Social unrest in Venezuela adds to jitters. NEW YORK, Feb 19- U.S. crude oil rose on Wednesday as a fresh bout of freezing weather boosted heating oil demand, while Brent climbed higher on concerns that political tensions in Africa and Venezuela could squeeze global supplies.

  • NEW YORK, Feb 19- A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday rejected the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority's effort to void Citigroup Inc's arbitration win in a dispute over a $7.5 billion investment in the bank less than a year before the 2008 financial crisis.

  • *Markets give Italy's Renzi the benefit of the doubt. LONDON, Feb 19- Italian borrowing costs hit eight-year lows on Wednesday as Prime Minister-designate Matteo Renzi completed talks on forming a cabinet investors hope will deliver on his ambitious reform agenda.

  • Dryer said the current farm price for milk is about $23 per hundredweight, compared to $17- $18 per hundredweight this time a year ago. China's increased demand in 2013 alone equaled the total increase in milk production in the United States, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, according to the National Milk Producers Federation.

  • Feb 19- Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines said it lost a bid for slots at Reagan National Airport in Washington that are being given up by American Airlines Group.

  • PARIS, Feb 19- PSA Peugeot Citroen's new boss promised a back-to-basics turnaround as the troubled carmaker unveiled a French-backed rescue deal with China's Dongfeng on Wednesday, along with another multibillion-euro loss.

  • NEW YORK, Feb 19- California hedge fund manager Doug Whitman, the first defendant in the broad U.S. crackdown on insider trading to take the stand in his own defense, on Wednesday failed to persuade a federal appeals court to overturn his conviction.

  • WASHINGTON, Feb 19- U.S. housing starts recorded their biggest drop in almost three years in January as harsh weather disrupted activity, but the third month of declines in permits hinted at some weakness in the housing market.

  • Natural gas futures for March delivery gained as much as 53.3 cents by late morning, or 9.6 percent, to reach a high of $6.085 per mmBtu, the highest since Jan. 7, 2010, when prices were at $6.108. The 11-15 day forecast points to "ongoing colder than normal conditions" over much of North America, said meteorologists at MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland.