(Adds future, detail, company news)
LONDON May 22 Britain's FTSE 100 index
is seen opening higher on Thursday, with the June futures
contract up 0.3 percent by 0640 GMT ahead of the cash
market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks,
please click on
* Expectations the Federal Reserve would continue to support
the U.S. economy and data showing a pick-up in Chinese factory
activity were likely to underpin equities on Thursday.
* The UK benchmark closed up 19.04 points, or 0.3 percent,
at 6,821.04 points on Wednesday, as drugmaker AstraZeneca
rebounded on the view that what appeared to have been an
unsuccessful bid for the firm may yet go through.
* Global shares rose overnight after minutes of the Fed's
last meeting reassured investors that policy makers would stick
to their easy monetary policy stance.
* Further brightening the mood, China's factory sector
turned in its best performance in five months in May, a
preliminary HSBC survey showed - though overall manufacturing
growth still contracted slightly in a suggestion that the
outlook remains murky.
* The second release of UK first-quarter GDP data, due at
0830 GMT, is expected to show that growth stayed at 0.8 percent,
according to a Reuters poll.
* UNILEVER : Unilever is in advanced talks to sell
its Ragu pasta sauce business to Japanese condiments maker
Mizkan Group for more than $2 billion, according to people
familiar with the matter.
* LLOYDS BANKING GROUP, RBS : Lloyds Banking
Group is joining a class-action lawsuit against government-owned
Royal Bank of Scotland, seeking 420 million pounds ($708.9
million) over the bank's handling of its 12-billion-pound rights
issue, the Herald Scotland newspaper reported.
* BP : BP, seeking to limit costs related to the 2010
Gulf of Mexico oil spill, said it would ask the U.S. Supreme
Court to review whether it must pay some businesses for economic
damages without proof that the spill caused such losses.
* ROYAL MAIL : Britain's Royal Mail, at the centre of
a political storm over its privatisation, posted a 12 percent
rise in full-year profit, and said its business was facing tough
headwinds from increasing competition.
* SABMILLER : SABMiller reported a 1 percent rise in
full-year earnings, hurt by foreign exchange rates, and forecast
another year of tough trading.
* UNITED UTILITIES : The company said it is confident
of delivering 2015 targets.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
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($1 = 0.5925 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Francesco Canepa)