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UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Jan. 7

(Adds index move at open, news items)

Jan 7 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.6% to 6,880 in early trade on Thursday.

* SAINSBURY’S: Sainsbury’s raised its full-year profit forecast as it reported strong trading in the key Christmas quarter, benefiting from COVID-19 restrictions which kept people eating and drinking at home.

* MITCHELLS & BUTLERS: Mitchells & Butlers said it was exploring an equity capital raise, as a new national lockdown shut the British pub operator’s sites across England, though it added that no decision had been made yet on its timing, size or terms.

* RYANAIR: Ryanair slashed its annual traffic forecast by around 5 million passengers, citing fresh lockdowns in the United Kingdom and Ireland introduced to curb a highly contagious new variant of COVID-19.

* ENTAIN: Ladbrokes owner Entain Plc said it has offered to buy Sweden-based sports betting firm Enlabs AB for about $343 million, days after rejecting an $11 billion takeover approach from U.S.-based MGM Resorts.

* B&M: B&M reported sales growth of 22.5% in the third quarter, while lowering its annual profit outlook after the British discount retailer let go of 80 million pounds ($109 million) of property tax relief offered by the UK government.

* TP ICAP: TP ICAP forecast a 1% drop in full-year revenue and offered more details on a share issue to fund its previously announced acquisition of electronic trading network Liquidnet.

* BP: BP Plc has given the operator of a Caribbean refinery more time to fully restart and retain its crude oil supply agreement after the plant failed to hit operating targets last year. BP also paid almost $24.4 million to the U.S. Treasury to cover allegations company traders manipulated natural gas markets in 2008, but is still challenging the fine in court.

* GOLD: Gold prices rose as a Democrat sweep of Georgia’s Senate runoffs boosted expectations of additional U.S. stimulus, although soaring Treasury yields held back bullion below a two-month high scaled in the previous session.

* OIL: Oil prices rose almost 1% after a fall in U.S. stockpiles added further support following the unilateral decision by Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter, to cut output over the next two months.

* The UK blue-chip index closed 3.5% higher on Wednesday led by banking and energy stocks as investors bet on more U.S. stimulus and crude oil prices jumped after Saudi Arabia agreed to cut more output than expected.

* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:

TODAY’S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines (Reporting by Priyanshi Mandhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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