(Adds company news, futures)
April 13 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 15.3 points lower on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures FFIc1 down 0.1 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* SAINSBURY: Britain’s No. 2 supermarket group Sainsbury plans to convert 60 Argos general merchandise stores to a digital format and open more in-store Habitat outlets over the next year, it said on Thursday.
* HSS HIRE: Tool and equipment rental firm HSS Hire said on Thursday that Chief Executive John Gill will step down once a successor is appointed.
* HAYS: British recruitment company Hays forecast full-year profit at the top end of market expectations on Thursday after reporting record third-quarter net fees as international hiring offset weakness in the UK market following the Brexit vote.
* ROYAL MAIL: Britain’s Royal Mail said on Thursday it would close its defined benefit pension scheme at end-March 2018 after a review found it would need to more than double annual contributions to over 1 billion pounds ($1.26 billion) to keep the plan running.
* RIO: Australia’s foreign investment watchdog has cleared Chinese-backed coal miner Yancoal Australia Ltd to pursue its $2.45 billion acquisition of Rio Tinto,’s Coal and Allied Division, Yancoal said on Thursday.
* BRITAIN HOUSE PRICES: House prices in central London saw their most widespread declines since 2009 as Brexit uncertainties and high transaction costs dented demand for high-end property in the British capital, a survey showed on Thursday.
* BRITAIN ECONOMY: British manufacturers reported the fastest export growth in more than two years in early 2017 and the services sector also recovered to rack up its strongest sales growth since last June’s Brexit vote, a business survey showed on Thursday.
* EX-DIVS: Reckitt Benckiser, Standard Life and Taylor Wimpey will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 3.7 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations
* The UK blue chip index fell 0.2 percent at close on Wednesday as results weighed on Tesco shares and the broader UK supermarket sector.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
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> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit topnews.session.rservices.com * For Top News : topnews.reuters.com (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)