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  • *Euro zone's Euro STOXX 50 index sets 5-1/ 2- year peak. LONDON, March 31- European equities rose for a fifth straight session to a three-week high on Monday on growing speculation that the European Central Bank could ease its policy and China might take steps to stimulate its economy.

  • FOREX-Euro steady ahead of inflation data, ECB Monday, 31 Mar 2014 | 3:59 AM ET

    *Hopes of China stimulus keeping risk demand buoyant. LONDON, March 31- The euro held firm on Monday ahead of inflation data that will set the tone for this week's meeting of the European Central Bank, which again faces the dilemma of whether to take more action to spur growth and weaken the currency.

  • March 30- Libya's sovereign wealth fund has filed a $1.5 billion lawsuit against Societe Generale, accusing it of funnelling bribes worth tens of millions of dollars to associates of Saif al-Islam, the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

  • LONDON, March 31- Lower-rated euro zone bond yields held near multi-year lows on Monday, with an expected drop in euro zone inflation keeping speculation rife that the European Central Bank may loosen monetary policy further later this year.

  • *National Front wins 11 town halls. *FN leader Le Pen: party can take lead in EU elections. PARIS, March 31- President Francois Hollande was due to take soundings on a possible cabinet reshuffle on Monday after a drubbing for his Socialists in local elections handed the far-right National Front victory in a record number of towns.

  • *Gold edges lower; prices down nearly 3 percent in March. SINGAPORE, March 31- Gold was trading near a six-week low on Monday, and was headed for its first monthly decline this year on growing optimism about the U.S. economy and weak physical demand in Asia.

  • SHANGHAI, March 31- China shares closed down 0.4 percent on Monday, reversing gains in the morning session as investors continued to sell off shares in companies linked to the Shanghai free trade zone after strong gains the previous week.

  • HONG KONG, March 31- Companies seeking to list in Hong Kong will be subject to a stricter disclosure regime starting Tuesday as the city's regulators crack down on sloppy underwriters and issuers. The new rules also follow a series of scandals at mainland Chinese companies that have run into trouble after listing in Hong Kong.

  • PARIS, March 31- European shares rose in early trading on Monday, adding to last week's brisk gains, helped by speculation the European Central Bank could ease policy while China might take steps to stimulate its economy.

  • ZURICH, March 31- Swiss drugmaker Novartis is set to end a late-stage clinical trial of a chronic heart failure drug early, following strong interim results. Novartis said it would start talks with global health regulators about filing for drug for approval.

  • TOKYO, March 31- Japan's Nikkei share average hit a three-week closing high on Monday, with exporters leading the way on a weaker yen, but The index posted its worst quarterly performance in nearly two years. Traders also suspect the market also got a lift from window dressing by fund managers as books close for the fiscal year-end on Monday.

  • March 31- New York state joined New York City in suing package delivery company FedEx Corp for allegedly violating state and federal laws by illegally delivering contraband cigarettes to people's homes.

  • BEIJING, March 31- A former Chinese mining magnate with links to the eldest son of retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang went on trial on Monday over charges including murder after being accused of leading a 36- member gang on a crime spree spanning two decades.

  • BUDAPEST, March 31- Hungarian drug maker Gedeon Richter and its partner Forest Laboratoriess announced positive top-line results from a Phase IIb trial of antipsychotic drug Cariprazine in patients with bipolar depression, the companies said in a statement on Monday.

  • SINGAPORE/ TOKYO, March 31- Iran's top four crude oil buyers lifted their purchases 17.2 percent in February from a year ago, as the OPEC member continues to ship more oil than allowed under a deal that eases some of the sanctions aimed at its disputed nuclear programme.

  • PARIS, March 31- France cut its public sector deficit less quickly than planned last year, missing the government's target, official figures showed on Monday in a new setback for President Francois Hollande.

  • TOKYO, March 31- Shinzo Abe has already ensured himself a place in Japan's history books with his comeback as prime minister five years after a brief, troubled first term.

  • *Rongsheng posts 2013 net loss of $1.4 billion. *Ship orders were worth $726 mln vs target of $1.8 bln. HONG KONG, March 31- China's biggest private shipbuilder, China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group, posted a second straight annual loss as new orders were less than half its target, and is in talks with banks about loan repayments.

  • SHENZHEN, March 31- China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd "maintained calm" and operated "business as usual" after media reports saying the U.S. accessed servers at the telecom giant's Shenzhen headquarters, acting Chief Executive Eric Xu said on Monday.

  • BEIJING, March 31- Hong Kong shares edged up on Monday as a selloff in energy and manufacturing heavyweights on disappointing earnings was offset by strength in gaming stocks before the release of monthly Macau gambling revenue figures.