LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen steady on Friday, with futures flat by 0738 GMT ahead of the cash market open.
* Investors were likely to avoid strong bets before U.S. jobs data which could sway the near-term direction of the market. U.S. hiring likely picked up enough in February to keep the Federal Reserve on track in reducing its monetary stimulus, but the size of the gain is expected to be modest as the economy struggles to break from the grip of severe winter weather.
Non-farm payrolls probably increased by 149,000 last month, with the jobless rate holding at a five-year low of 6.6 percent, according to a Reuters survey of economists.
* The UK blue chip index closed up 13.07 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,788.49 on Thursday.
* Friday is a quiet day on the UK corporate earnings front, with no blue chips scheduled to post earnings.
* RIO TINTO : The miner is considering buying the outstanding 49.2 percent stake in Vancouver-based mineral exploration and development company Turquoise Hill Resources it does not already own, with speculation of a cash offer at around $8 a share, according to the Daily Mail's market report.
* ESSAR ENERGY : The India-focused oil refiner rose on Thursday on talk that the Indian billionaire Ruia brothers, who already own 78 percent of the equity, are on the verge of increasing their offer for the minority to 86 pence a share, according to the Daily Mail's market report.
* BP : The oil and gas major said it had mothballed plans to explore in Libya's Ghadames basin because of security concerns, the latest in a series of companies to rethink their projects amid growing instability.
* Permanent job placements in Britain rose at the fastest pace in almost four years last month and salaries are picking up too, a survey showed on Friday, in the latest sign of recovery in the labour market.
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