(Adds futures, news items)
Oct 31 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 4 points lower at 7,327 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures flat ahead of the cash market open.
* RIO: Rio Tinto, has changed its exploration strategy to consider smaller ore deposits that have growth potential, as the likelihood of finding large, low cost mines dwindles, an executive said. Rio forecast a 5% year-on-year rise in iron ore shipments for 2020 and also deferred $500 million of capital expenditure in 2019 to the next year.
* SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell’s third-quarter profit dropped by 15% on weaker oil prices but easily beat expectations thanks to a boost from oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading.
* CREST NICHOLSON: Crest Nicholson Holdings Plc updated its profit forecast for the full year as its new chief executive officer reviews the business and the British homebuilder’s strategy to cope with Brexit.
* LLOYDS: Britain’s biggest mortgage lender Lloyds Banking Group posted weaker-than-expected third quarter pre-tax profits, after making a further 1.8 billion pound ($2.33 billion) provision for mis-sold loan insurance payouts.
* SMITH+NEPHEW: Artificial hip and knee maker Smith+Nephew raised its full-year underlying revenue growth forecast for the third time this year, less than two weeks after appointing a new top boss.
* ICAG: British Airways owner IAG said that it had taken a hit from industrial action from pilots at the airline, knocking profits in its third quarter.
* BT: BT, Britain’s biggest broadband provider, said it had met earnings expectations for the first half, underpinning its target to roll out gold standard fibre broadband to 4 million premises by March 2021.
* BREXIT: Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, kicks off his election campaign on Thursday with a vow to take on Britain’s “rigged system”, which he said was run by a privileged elite of tax dodgers, billionaire owners and bad bosses.
* HSBC: HSBC cut its best lending rate in Hong Kong for the first time since the global financial crisis, lowering it by 12.5 basis points to 5%, effective on Friday, November 1.
* LSE: Italy’s Treasury needs more information from the London Stock Exchange about the future of MTS, an Italian electronic fixed income trading market majority-owned by the LSE, top official Alessandro Rivera told Reuters on Wednesday.
* GOLD: Gold prices climbed as the U.S. dollar weakened after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the third time this year but signalled its rate-cut cycle might be at a pause.
* OIL: Oil prices rose as investors banked on more economic stimulus by China after weak PMI data, partly recovering from losses in the previous session on a surprise build in U.S. crude stocks.
* EX-DIVS: Unilever will trade without entitlement to its latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 1.6 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations.
* The UK blue chip index closed up 0.3% on Wednesday as a rally in pharmaceutical stocks led by industry giants GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca helped the FTSE 100 outshine most global peers.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Shanima A in Bengaluru)