October 17, 2019 / 6:37 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Oct. 17

(Adds company news items and futures)

Oct 17 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 2 points to 7,170 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up 0.23% ahead of cash markets open.

* WH SMITH: WH Smith Plc on Thursday reported a 7% increase in annual pretax profit and said it would buy Marshall Retail Group for about $400 million to expand internationally.

* GRAFTON GROUP: The Building materials distributor warned on Thursday that its annual profit would be below market expectations, due to weak consumer demand in the UK and delays in new construction permits in Netherlands.

* UNILEVER: The Consumer goods giant, the maker of Knorr soups and Dove soap, reported weaker-than-expected third quarter sales, blaming softer demand in India and a slowdown in China, two of its biggest emerging markets.

* ASTRAZENECA: The Drugmaker said on Thursday its experimental breast cancer treatment will get a speedy review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with a decision by the health regulator expected in the second quarter of next year.

* DOMINO’S PIZZA: Britain’s biggest pizza delivery company, said on Thursday it will exit its international markets, where it has been facing mounting losses.

* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND: Royal Bank of Scotland has increased its Brexit support fund for small businesses by 2.2 billion pounds to 8.2 billion pounds ($10.5 billion), after identifying several thousand customers who may be impacted by Britain’s departure.

* OIL: Oil prices eased on Thursday after industry data showed a larger-than-expected build-up in stocks in the United States, although losses were limited by comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a U.S.-China trade deal.

* GOLD: Gold prices eased on Thursday and held below the $1,490 an ounce level, as traders refrained from making any big bets in the absence of fresh developments on the Sino-U.S. trade war front and Brexit negotiations.

* EX-DIVS: Bae Systems, Smiths Group will trade without entitlement to its latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 1.7 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations.

* Britain’s mid-cap stocks index FTSE 250 cut its losses from the morning on Wednesday and was last down marginally.

* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:

TODAY’S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines (Reporting by Aniruddha Ghosh in Bengaluru)

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