UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 18

(Adds futures, company news items)

March 18 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening higher on Friday, with futures up 0.32 percent ahead of the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on

* The UK blue chip index closed 25.63 points higher at 6,201.12 on Thursday as miners were boosted by a weaker dollar after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s dovish decision to hold interest rates steady.

* DEUTSCHE BOERSE/LSE DEAL: European stock exchange operator Euronext NV is considering acquisitions to help it stay competitive after Deutsche Boerse AG and London Stock Exchange Group Plc agreed to merge in a $30 billion deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

* GLAXOSMITHKLINE: GSK said on Thursday Chief Executive Andrew Witty would retire in 12 months after leading the British drugmaker through a series of changes since 2008 that have failed to ignite the company’s share price.

* ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS: AB Foods said on Friday it was still in talks to buy South Africa’s Illovo Sugar.

* BT GROUP: BT Group named Simon Lowth as finance director and an executive board director.

* PHOENIX GROUP: Britain’s largest consolidator of closed life funds is preparing to bid for Deutsche Bank AG’s British insurance unit, Sky News reported.

* SAINSBURY: Investors expect Sainsbury's to offer as much as 1.5 billion pounds for Argos ahead of a Friday deadline, as the supermarket considers trumping a rival South African bid for the catalogue shop, the Guardian reported. (

* BANK OF ENGLAND: Bank of England policymakers said the sterling had been dealt a big hit by uncertainty in the run-up to the referendum on EU membership and that growth could slow, after voting unanimously to keep rates steady.

* BUSINESS CONFIDENCE: Confidence among Britain’s small businesses has plummeted, a survey showed on Friday, with Northern Irish and Scottish businesses the least confident in the face of a global economic slowdown and public-sector austerity.


> Financial Times

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