July 26, 2018 / 6:59 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on July 26

(Adds company news items and futures)

July 26 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 6 points higher at 7,664 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up 0.21 percent ahead of the cash market open.

* SKY: Sky, the pay-TV group at the centre of a bidding war between Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Comcast, reported a 9 percent rise in full-year core earnings on Thursday after it added more than 500,000 customers across its European operations.

* ASTRAZENECA: AstraZeneca’s new drugs performed strongly in the second quarter, offering a glimpse of better times ahead as the company struggles with falling sales of cholesterol fighter Crestor due to generic competition.

* ANGLO AMERICAN: Anglo American on Thursday said its board had approved development of its Quellaveco copper project in Peru, a step expected after it announced in June that Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp 8058.T would increase its stake in the project.

* BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO: British American Tobacco reported higher first-half sales on Thursday, despite a slowing market in Japan for heated tobacco devices.

* SMITH & NEPHEW: Smith & Nephew, Europe’s biggest artificial hip and knee maker, reiterated its full-year guidance on Thursday after its established markets returned to growth after a difficult start to the year.

* DIAGEO: Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company, reported higher sales and profits on Thursday despite currency headwinds.

* SCHRODERS: British asset manager Schroders on Thursday posted an 8 percent increase in half-year profits, helped by a rise in assets under management and higher fee income.

* JLT: Insurance and reinsurance broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson reported a 10 percent rise in first-half underlying pretax profit, and said rates increased “substantially” in some parts of its retail business.

* VIRGIN MONEY: Virgin Money reported a 10 percent rise in first-half underlying pretax profit on Thursday, helped by growth across the bank’s core mortgages, savings and credit card businesses.

* POLYMETAL: Russian gold and silver producer Polymetal said on Thursday its second-quarter revenue rose 13 percent year-on-year to $435 million due to an increase in production and higher sales of gold.

* COMPASS GROUP: Compass Group Plc, the world’s biggest catering firm, said operating margin fell slightly in the nine months to June 30, hurt by higher costs and “challenging” volumes in the UK.

* INTU PROPERTIES: Intu Properties Chief Executive Officer David Fischel is stepping down months after a 3.4 billion-pound ($4.49 billion) takeover of the British shopping centre operator by bigger rival Hammerson fell through.

* GSK: A U.S. Food and Drug Administration expert panel on Wednesday did not support approval of GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s drug Nucala in treating a disease that limits airflow to the lungs.

* ANGLO AMERICAN: Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra will announce the start of Anglo American’s copper project Quellaveco on Thursday, Vizcarra’s office said in a statement.

* JOHN MENZIES: John Menzies is set to announce the sale of its newspaper distribution arm to private equity investor Endless for about 70 million pounds ($92.4 million), Sky News reported on Wednesday.

* GOLD: Gold prices held steady on Thursday as the dollar eased after U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to work towards eliminating trade barriers, easing immediate concerns about global trade tensions.

* OIL: Brent crude led oil prices higher, extending gains into a third day after Saudi Arabia suspended crude shipments through a strategic Red Sea shipping lane and as data showed U.S. inventories fell to a 3-1/2 year low.

* EX-DIVS: Royal Mail and SSE Plc will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 3.18 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations.

* The UK blue chip FTSE 100 index fell 0.7 percent and closed at 7,658.26 points on Wednesday, as mining stocks lost ground, with earnings in focus as ITV and Informa issued updates.

* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets

TODAY’S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines ($1 = 0.7577 pounds) (Reporting by Siju Varghese)

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