* Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 10-15 points, or 0.3 percent higher on Monday, the first session of a new month and the second-quarter, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 26.24 points, or 0.5 percent on Friday at 5,768.45, supported by strength in mining stocks on the final session of the first quarter. The index snapped a three-month winning streak to close down 1.8 percent in March, and recorded a quarterly gain of 3.5 percent.
* China's big factories were surprisingly busy in March, with the country's official Purchasing Managers' Index jumping to an 11-month high of 53.1 in March, up from February's 51 comfortably beating forecasts of 50.5.
* London copper futures rose on Monday as upbeat Chinese manufacturing data helped calm fears about a sharp slowdown in the world's top copper consumer.
* Brent crude rose above $123 on Monday as the positive manufacturing data from China eased fears of a sharp economic slowdown in the world's second-largest oil consumer, and as continuing tension in the Middle East threatened crude supplies.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND Sovereign wealth funds Qatar Investment Authority, Singapore's Temasek Holdings and the Government Pension Fund of Norway are understood to be weighing up whether to bid for part of the UK government's 82 percent stake in RBS, the Sunday Express said.
Also, RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester has held meetings with fund managers about making a major investment in the bank priced at as low as 32 pence a share, the Sunday Telegraph said.
And the majority-state-owned lender is expected to re-instate dividends on its preference shares in May, which could lead to a 400 million pounds capital raising, the Daily Telegraph said on Monday.
* LLOYDS BANKING GROUP Former Northern Rock Chief Executive Gary Hoffman's buyout vehicle, NBNK Investment is planning to restart its campaign to buy more than 600 branches from Lloyds this week, according to industry sources, the Sunday Times said.
* BSKYB Two key independent directors at BSkyB are set to leave as the pay-TV company embarks on an overhaul of its board that could weaken its unanimous backing of James Murdoch as chairman, the Financial Times said on Monday.
* VODAFONE The mobile phones operator is ready to take the Indian government to the United Nations over its demands for the telecoms company to hand over more than $2 billion in back-dated tax, the Independent on Sunday said.
* DIAGEO The drinks group has instructed Goldman Sachs to finalise its talks on taking a stake in Jose Cuervo, valuing the Mexican tequila brand in the region of $3 billion, the Sunday Telegraph said.
* GLAXOSMITHKLINE A new once-daily AIDS drug from Glaxo and its partner Shionogi proved as effective as Merck & Co's twice-daily rival product Isentress in a late-stage clinical trial.
* LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE The bourses operator closed in on completing its takeover of European clearing house LCH.Clearnet on Monday, saying the $1 billion deal had won the approval of the majority of shareholders and was expected to close in the fourth quarter.
* COOKSON The British firm is working on a plan to spin off its electronics business, which accounts for about a third of its annual sales, and list it as a standalone company, and it has appointed Rothschild to work on the proposal, the Sunday Times said.
* 3I GROUP Top shareholders want a radical new strategy at the quoted private equity firm after the departure of chief executive Michael Queen last week, calling for rapid sell offs and savage cost cuts, and have even suggested the firm considers selling all of its assets and closing down, the Sunday Times said.
* BALFOUR BEATTY The contractor is looking to sell its one-third stake in London's University College Hospital, which it hopes to fetch 60 million to 80 million pounds, the Independent on Sunday said.
* UNITED BUSINESS MEDIA Helen Alexander, a former CBI president and chairman of privately owned publisher Incisive Media, is understood to have been lined up to chair the publishing and events business, the Independent on Sunday said.
* HIKMA PHARMACEUTICALS > The drugs group plans to spend nearly $300 million on acquisitions and expansion initiatives in 2012 amid strong growth prospects in the Middle East and North Africa, its chief financial officer, Khalid Nabilsi told Reuters.
* GAME GROUP The collapsed video games retailer's British stores were sold to OpCapita, the private equity firm which last year bought electrical goods retailer Comet, safeguarding nearly 3,200 jobs, Game Group's administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers said on Sunday.
* GOALS SOCCER CENTERS The British five-a-side soccer operator, responding to weekend press speculation, confirmed that it has received a bid approach from the private equity arm of Canada's Ontario Teachers' Pension plan.
* FALKLANDS' OIL EXPLORERS A group of British and American banks have been threatened with legal action by the Argentine government for advising companies involved in the Falkland Islands' 1.6 billion-pound oil industry, the Sunday Telegraph said.
* Financial firms in Britain, including banks hit in 2011 by the euro zone debt crisis, have started taking on new staff again, confounding forecasts for more lay-offs, according to survey by the Confederation of British Industry and accounting and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers showed on Monday.
* On the domestic data front, March Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing PMIs will be released at 0828 GMT, with a reading of 50.7 forecast, down from 51.2 in the previous month.
* With little other domestic data due in the fore-shortened pre-Easter holiday trading week, the main focus will be on the latest monetary policy decisions from both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank on Thursday, although no changes are expected from either.
* Across the Atlantic, March's U.S. ISM survey and February construction spending data will both be released at 1400 GMT on Monday. Investors will be focused on the March U.S. jobs report, although the release comes on Friday when both U.S. and European markets will be shut.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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