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May 14(Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 56 points lower on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 1.1% ahead of cash market open.
* 3I GROUP: 3i Group Plc stuck to its plan to pay a 2020 dividend after saying profits fell to just a third of those a year ago due to a slump in the value of its private equity investments in travel, retail and automotive businesses in March’s global market selloff.
* WH SMITH: WH Smith reported an 85% slump in group sales in April, slightly better than its earlier forecast as a 400% rise in online book sales helped offset some of the damage of mass coronavirus closures of its kiosks and stores.
* JUST GROUP: Specialist pension provider Just Group posted a drop in solvency ratio as interest rates fell across regions with countries taking measures to stimulate their economies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
* LLOYD’S OF LONDON: Lloyd’s of London is likely to pay out $3.0-4.3 billion in claims related to the coronavirus pandemic and underwriting and investment losses for the global non-life insurance sector could reach a record $203 billion, Lloyd’s said.
* HARGREAVES LANSDOWN: British fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown said that total assets fell 8.1% in the opening four months of the year, hit by sharp equity market falls.
* PERSIMMON: Housebuilder Persimmon said it had 65% of construction work back up and running and was reopening sales offices on May 15 with social distancing restrictions, although all of its sites in Scotland will remain closed under Scottish government restrictions.
* HOUSING MARKETS: British house prices are likely to fall as the market slowly begins to reopen, after a collapse in activity due to COVID-19 restrictions last month, a survey showed.
* TARIFFS: The United Kingdom is planning to cut tariffs on U.S. agricultural imports to advance progress on a free trade agreement, the Financial Times reported .
* LSE: The London Stock Exchange on Wednesday formally asked the European Union’s competition officials to approve its $27 billion takeover of data and analytics company Refinitiv.
* GOLD: Gold eased as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell downplayed the possibility of negative interest rates, but his warning of an extended period of weak economic growth capped the metal’s losses.
* OIL: Oil prices climbed following an unexpected drop in U.S. crude stocks, but gains were capped by a bleak outlook for the world’s No. 1 economy as the coronavirus pandemic crushes fuel demand, and concern over a potential second wave of cases.
* UK stocks fell on Wednesday after data showed the economy contracted in March at a pace never seen before as the coronavirus crisis escalated, while analysts warned of more pain ahead.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines (Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru)