* Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 6-9 points, or 0.2
percent on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, running counter to signs
of a higher opening in Europe. For more on the factors affecting European
stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 39.19 points, or 0.7 percent on Wednesday
at 5,634.74, rallying after hefty falls in the previous session led by bounce
back in risk-sensitive banks and mining stocks.
* Brent crude held steady at $120 on Thursday as supply disruption worries
eased with Iran saying it would present new proposals in the upcoming nuclear
talks with world powers, reversing some of the previous session's gains.
* London copper rose further above its technical support at $8,000 a
tonne on Thursday as prospects of the European Central Bank buying more bonds
helped boost the euro and eased concerns about Europe's debt crisis.
* The Federal Reserve on Wednesday provided an reassuring assessment of the
U.S. economy in its latest "Beige Book" summary of national activity, after
Friday's data showing a sharp slowdown in U.S. jobs creation in March triggered
a sell-off in global markets earlier this week.
* BP The oil firm will run the gauntlet of protests from
environmentalists and investors alike at its annual shareholder meeting on
Thursday where it will make the latest in a series of attempts to put the Gulf
of Mexico oil spill behind it.
Also, BP will gain access to U.S. government documents that may shed light
on the size of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a
crucial issue in determining the company's liability.
* ROYAL DUTCH SHELL Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsubishi Corp, China
National Petroleum Corp and Korea Gas Corp are in the final stages of talks to
build a $12.35 billion liquefied natural gas terminal on Canada's west coast,
which would be the third such project aimed at meeting demand from Asia.
* RIO TINTO, BHP BILLITON The two global miners are set to
report lower-than-expected iron ore output for the March quarter after heavy
rains and cyclones disrupted port and mining operations in Australia.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND Rumours circulated that Arab investors,
including Qatar and Abu Dhabi, had bid the British government 30 pence a share
for 29 percent of its 81 percent stake in the UK lender, helping boost the
shares towards Wednesday's close, according to the Daily Mail.
* AVIVA The group is considering plans to sell its life assurance
business in the U.S. in a move analysts estimate could raise at least 1 billion
pounds and mark an exit from one of the UK-listed group's core markets, the
Financial Times said.
* TESCO The retailer is to shake up its multi million-pound
advertising strategy as it strives to win back British shoppers, the Financial
* AGGREKO The world's biggest temporary power provider, said
underlying revenue had risen by more than 20 percent in the first three months
of the year, putting it on track for further growth in 2012.
Separately, the company announced a 100 MW contract in the Dominican Republic
valued at about $80 million over two years.
* ROLLS-ROYCE The engineer has secured a contract to supply power and
propulsion systems for the two latest vessels in the U.S. Navy's Littoral Combat
* ASHMORE GROUP The emerging markets specialist fund manager said
investments made during the back end of 2012 came good in its third quarter,
with performance buoying a 9 percent lift in its assets under management.
*HAYS The staffing group says Q3 group net fee growth was 10
percent and it expects its full year operating profit to be towards the top of
the current range of market estimates although UK markets remain difficult,
especially in banking and the public sector.
* MOTHERCARE The British mother and baby products said it would
close more UK stores as it seeks to restore profitability in its home market,
after sales there slumped in the fourth quarter.
* WESSEX EXPLORATION France's Total says it is no longer
exploring an offer for Wessex Exploration.
* MELROSE The firm's top executives have been awarded stock worth
126 million pounds after shareholders in the engineering turnaround specialist
approved the crystallisation of its five-year incentive scheme, the Financial
* CHURCHILL MINING The miner will take the Indonesian government to
international arbitration and seek more than $2 billion in compensation in a
near four-year dispute over a huge coal asset.
* British trade numbers for February will be released at 0830 GMT, with a
global trade gap of -7.7 billion pounds forecast, up from a -7.532 billion
pounds deficit in January, and a non-EU trade gap of -3.85 billion pounds, down
from -3.678 billion pounds.
* U.S. February international trade figures will be released at 1230 GMT,
together with March U.S. producer prices, and the latest weekly initial jobless
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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* 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Jon Hopkins)