(Adds company news items and futures)
Jan 3 - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 32 points at 7,572 on Friday, according to financial bookmakers with futures down 0.34% ahead of cash markets open.
*OFGEM: Britain’s energy regulator said it had fined electricity suppliers 10.5 million pounds ($13.77 million) for the Aug. 9 blackout in the country that affected one million customers and caused transport chaos.
*RYANAIR: Ryanair is prepared for further delays to the delivery of its Boeing 737 MAX airliners, Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary told German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, adding that he would only discuss compensation after the aircraft had been delivered.
* NEXT: British clothing retailer Next edged up its profit forecast for 2019-20 after better-than-expected sales in the Christmas trading period, helped by a much colder November than last year.
* U.S.-IRAN: The United States killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force and spearhead of Iran’s spreading military influence in the Middle East, in an air strike at Baghdad airport, the Pentagon and Iran said.
* RAIL: Britain will bring to an end the Northern Rail franchise run by Deutsche Bahn’s Arriva due to its “completely unacceptable” performance, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Thursday.
* UK SHOP PRICES: British shop prices fell in December for the seventh month running as retailers ramped up discounts to attract shoppers in the run-up to Christmas, an industry survey showed.
* OIL: Brent crude futures jumped close to $3 to their highest since September after a U.S. air strike killed key Iranian and Iraqi military personnel, raising concerns that escalating Middle East tensions may disrupt oil supplies.
* GOLD: Gold prices climbed to a four-month high, as tensions mounted in the Middle East after a senior Iranian military official was killed in a U.S. air strike, while a weaker dollar also provided some support to the metal.
* The UK blue-chip index closed up 0.8% on Thursday after two straight sessions of losses to rise after China cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks and Trump said a Phase 1 trade deal with Beijing would be signed on Jan. 15.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines (Reporting by Aniruddha Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)