(Adds futures, company news)
LONDON, April 3 Britain's FTSE 100 index
is seen opening slightly higher on Thursday, with June futures
for the index up 0.2 percent by 0625 GMT. For more on
the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 6.43 points, or 0.1
percent, at 6,659.04 points on Wednesday, its highest close
since March 11, propped up by cyclical banks and mining
companies on encouraging economic news in the United States.
* Euro zone monetary policy will fall under the spotlight as
the European Central Bank holds its regular meeting.
The ECB looks set to keep interest rates steady and offer no
new aid to the euro zone's fragile recovery despite a fall in
inflation to its lowest in more than four years.
* Activity in China's services industry rose to a four-month
high in March, a private survey showed, even as persistent
weakness in manufacturing has reinforced fears of a
sharper-than-expected economic slowdown.
* Activity in Britain's housing market is still much weaker
than would be expected in a fully functioning market, according
to a Bank of England policymaker who played down fears of a
* VODAFONE GROUP : The mobile operator said it would
add 150 shops and create 1,400 jobs across the United Kingdom
during the next 12 months in a 100 million pound ($166.3
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND : Part-nationalised RBS said
it will close 44 branches, of which 14 are classed as "Last
Banks in Town", in the UK and Scotland.
* SPORTS DIRECT : The sporting goods retailer has
scrapped plans for a shareholder vote on a share bonus scheme
worth 73 million pounds for its founder Mike Ashley after
failing to secure enough support.
* KINGFISHER : Europe's No. 1 home improvement
retailer has entered into exclusive negotiations with the main
investors of French rival Mr Bricolage to buy their
* BRITISH LAND : The landlord has signed a new 785
million pound revolving credit facility.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines
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($1 = 0.6012 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Atul Prakash)