LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - * Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 3 to 6 points higher, or up 0.1 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 9.40 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,718.89 on Wednesday, shrugging off UK GDP figures showing Britain slipped back into recession and disappointing first-quarter results from drugmaker Glaxosmithkline .
* In terms of domestic macroeconomic data, the CBI’s latest distributive trades survey is set for release at 1000 GMT.
* Across the Atlantic, investors will look at U.S. weekly jobless claims data, due at 1230 GMT, and U.S. March pending home sales data, at 1400 GMT.
* Brent crude was steady around $119 a barrel on Thursday, as optimism over a recovery in the U.S economy offset easing concerns of a disruption in Iranian oil exports and high U.S. crude stocks.
* Royal Dutch Shell reported an 11 percent rise in fourth quarter profits, beating analysts’ forecasts, as higher oil prices and stronger refining margins outweighed the impact of lower U.S. gas prices.
* UNILEVER warned of a tough economic environment and higher inputs costs as the consumer goods giant’s price hikes and emerging market growth helped first-quarter sales beat forecasts with an 8.4 percent rise.
* BARCLAYS posted a 22 percent rise in first-quarter profit, ahead of market forecasts, as a strong rebound in revenue from its investment banking arm and a drop in bad debt countered increased compensation for insurance mis-selling.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND is planning to spin off its mergers and acquisitions business to some of its top bankers, sources said, forming a new advisory boutique with anticipated investment from foreign banks without a big footprint in Europe.
* ASTRAZENECA Chief Executive David Brennan is to step down on June 1 in an abrupt exit that follows rising investor discontent at the company’s performance.
ADMIRAL GROUP issues a trading update.
ASTRAZENECA reports first-quarter results.
BARCLAYS issues a trading update.
BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO issues a trading update.
KAZAKHMYS issues a trading update.
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL reports first-quarter results.
SHIRE reports first-quarter results.
UNILEVER issues a trading update.
WHITBREAD reports full-year results.
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