Reuters
UK Markets
UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 23
Fri, Mar 23 03:34 AM EDT

LONDON March 23 (Reuters) - * Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening up as much as 15 points, or 0.2 percent higher on Friday, according to financial bookmakers, bouncing after the previous session's falls. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on

* The UK blue chip index closed 46.3 points lower on Thursday at 5,845.65, heading for its biggest weekly loss this year, as concerns over China growth, and the health of Europe's economy prompted falls in the cyclical shares such as miners and bank, while gold miners like Randgold retreated on the back of civil unrest in Mali.

* British consumer morale eased last month from January's five-month high as shoppers grew more worried about their jobs, a survey from building society Nationwide showed on Friday.

* No other important UK data was scheduled for release on Friday.

* In the U.S., February new home sales data is due for release at 1400 GMT, with investors looking for an upturn in sentiment in the world's biggest economy following mixed housing data earlier in the week.

*COMMODITIES Gold prices were set for their fourth-straight week of losses, after weak economic data from China and the euro zone sent bullion to a two-month low in the previous session.

* London copper bounced on Friday, coming off two-week lows hit in the previous session, but prices were on track for a weekly loss as global growth concerns and tepid demand from top consumer China kept a lid on gains.

* U.S. crude futures were steady above $105 a barrel on Friday, rebounding from sharp falls in the previous session.

* BT GROUP The telecoms firm agrees a new pension deal and will make a lump sum payment of 2 billion pounds into the scheme before the end of March.

* PHOENIX GROUP The insurer posts a rise in full-year operating profits and a fall in debts and says its chairman Ron Sandler will retire this year.

* BAE SYSTEMS Shares in the defence contractor dipped on Thursday amid rumours the British firm is one of a number of group's preparing to bid for U.S. aerospace and defence parts supplier Esterline Technologies, which could attract a knock-out bid north of $95 a share, the Daily Mail's Market Report said.

* INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES GROUP IAG has offered a limited number of extra concessions to try to secure regulatory approval for its acquisition of BMI British Midland, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, the Financial Times said.

* ROYAL DUTCH SHELL Lawyers representing 11,000 Nigerians will on Friday serve the details of a claim against Royal Dutch Shell at the High Court after negotiations about compensation for two oil spills in the Niger delta fell apart last week, the Financial Times said.

* THOMAS COOK The travel firm's plan to have a new chief executive in place by the end of March is in tatters after a string of rejections from candidates unwilling to take the job, the Daily Mail said.

* COVE ENERGY A consortium of Indian public-sector energy companies, Oil and Natural Gas Corp and GAIL India, have not yet submitted a bid for Africa-focused gas explorer Cove Energy a company source said on Friday.

* WH IRELAND The broker swings to a full-year adjusted pretax profit.

* STANLEY GIBBONS Reports a rise in full-year adjusted pretax profit before exceptional charges to 5.2 million pounds from 4.5 million pounds.

* BRIGHTSIDE GROUP The group posts a 34.7 percent gain in pretax profit to 13.6 million pounds on revenues up 21.5 percent at 80.4 million pounds and an upbeat outlook statement.

* AEC EDUCATION The group anticipates pretax profit for the year ahead of current market expectations and announces the acquisition of training provider Skye Training for an initial consideration of 100,000 pounds.

* BELLZONE MINING The miner announces that iron ore production and product stockpiling for the For├ęcariah JV Project in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa, has commenced following the maiden blast on the Yomboyeli Central ore body on March 22.

TODAY'S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134


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