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April 25 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 53 points lower at 7,373 on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 0.5 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO: British American Tobacco plans to increase investment in next-generation products such as e-cigarettes and devices that heat tobacco without burning it, this year, with a large number of launches planned for the end of third quarter.
* METRO BANK: British lender Metro Bank Plc posted a more than five-fold jump in first-quarter underlying pretax profit, driven by strong lending growth and a rise in customer numbers, and said it expected to raise capital this year.
* WHITBREAD: Whitbread plc said it would spin off Costa Coffee, Britain’s biggest coffee chain, saying it could thrive as a separately listed business.
* PERSIMMON: Persimmon, Britain’s second-largest builder, on Wednesday reported robust trading since the start of the year, with sales conversion rates and cancellation rates in line with expectations.
* LLOYDS BANKING GROUP: Britain’s biggest mortgage lender Lloyds Banking Group reported pre-tax profit of 1.6 billion pounds ($2.23 billion) in the first quarter on Wednesday, just missing analyst expectations of 1.82 billion pounds.
* SHIRE: Shire Plc said it was willing to recommend a deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co to its shareholders, after the Japanese company sweetened its acquisition offer to 46 billion pounds ($64.28 billion). Takeda Pharmaceutical fell sharply after it sweetened its takeover bid.
* UNILEVER: The scrapping of a Dutch tax on dividends was “decisive” for Unilever in deciding whether it would choose the Netherlands or Britain as its base, according to memos released by the Dutch government as part of a domestic political row on Tuesday.
* SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell said it approved a plan to build its Vito development in the U.S. deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
* EN+: Russia’s En+ Group said its chief executive officer and its chief financial officer resigned on Tuesday, with replacements appointed to both posts.
* BRITAIN BOOKMAKERS: Britain’s finance ministry said on Tuesday it fully supported a government proposal to toughen up gambling rules, saying reports that it was worried about losing tax revenues were speculative.
* BRITISH BUILDING MATERIAL: British laboratory tests on the fire safety of building materials are inadequate, research for the insurance industry in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire showed on Wednesday.
* OIL: Oil prices on Wednesday fell back from more than three-year highs reached the previous session as rising U.S. fuel inventories and production weighed on an otherwise bullish market.
* GOLD: Gold prices fell on Wednesday as the dollar advanced towards more than three-month highs and on easing concerns over North Korea and a Sino-U.S. trade war, but found some support from sliding stock markets.
* The UK blue chip index closed up 0.4 percent at 7,425.40 points on Tuesday, after a sustained surge in oil stocks helped it climb further to seven-week highs as pressure on defensive stocks such as utilities eased and a fifth bid from Takeda Pharmaceutical boosted drugmaker Shire.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
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