(Adds company news items, futures)
Feb 16 Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 7
points to 7295 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down
0.1 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed 0.5 percent higher at 7302.41 after
setting its highest level since mid-January on Wednesday as investors bet on
financial stocks following U.S. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen's hawkish
tone suggested U.S. interest rates would rise. A rally in mining shares also
lent some support to the broader stock market.
* DRAX: British power producer Drax reported a 17 percent fall in
core annual earnings to 140 million pounds ($175 million), slightly below
analysts' estimates, citing weak power prices and the loss of revenue from a
green energy scheme.
* COCA-COLA HBC: Soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola HBC reported higher
full-year profit on Thursday, helped by price increases and cost cuts, though
revenue was pulled lower by currency fluctuations and weakness in Russia.
* WIZZ AIR: Budget airline Wizz Air is to open a new British base
at London Luton, the airline said on Thursday, with three new routes flying from
* LAURA ASHLEY: British fashion and homeware retailer Laura Ashley Holdings
Plc said pretax net profit for the year ending in June 2017 would fall
below market expectations due to tough trading conditions.
* LANCASHIRE: Insurer Lancashire Holdings forecast another
challenging year ahead after posting a 12-percent fall in full-year profit, hurt
by continuing pricing pressure and a slight fall in gross written premiums in
its LLoyd's and marine businesses.
TATA STEEL: Tata Steel's British workers voted on Wednesday to
accept pension benefit cuts in return for safeguards on jobs and investment,
although the Indian company's plan to spin off its entire UK pension scheme
still faces regulatory hurdles.
* OIL: Oil held steady on Thursday, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by
producer group OPEC, while rising fuel inventories and crude production in the
United States dragged on prices. Brent crude futures were trading at
$55.74 per barrel at 0550 GMT, down just 1 cent from their last close.
* STERLING: Sterling touched one-week lows against a broadly stronger dollar
on Wednesday after U.S. consumer prices had their biggest jump in nearly four
years and retail numbers beat expectations.
* COPPER: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged up
by 0.3 percent to $6,085 a tonne by 0128 GMT, extending small 0.7 percent gains
from the previous session. Prices hit the highest since May 2015 at $6,204 a
tonne on Monday.
* EX-DIVS: AstraZeneca, BP, Imperial Brands, Royal
Dutch Shell A and Royal Dutch Shell B will trade without
entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 27.64 points
off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
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(Reporting by Sanjeeban Sarkar in Bengaluru)