LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening flat to 11 points lower on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. Futures on the index were down 8 points, or 0.1 percent, at 0715 GMT.
* Activity in China’s factory sector contracted in January for the first time in six months, a preliminary survey showed on Thursday, pointing to a weak start for the economy in 2014 as policymakers seek to curb high debt levels to head off financial risks.
* European Central Bank President Mario Draghi cautioned Wednesday against undue optimism for the euro zone economy, saying there still were significant risks of setbacks to the recovery.
* Bank of England policymakers are discussing what they will do when unemployment falls to their threshold level for considering an increase in interest rates, said Ian McCafferty, a member of the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee.
* British car production reached its highest level since 2007 last year, buoyed by strong domestic demand and exports outside the European Union, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
* PEARSON - The British publisher said earnings per share after restructuring charges would be lower in 2013, due to weak demand in its education businesses in North America and Britain.
* SSE - The utility has pledged to cap energy prices until 2015.
* EASYJET - The budget airline guided that first half seasonal losses would be higher this year than last year due to the timing of Easter which falls in its fiscal second half, as it reported a 7.7 percent rise in quarterly revenues.
* CHEMRING - The company said underlying full-year pretax profit fell 25.2 percent to 52.4 million pounds ($86.90 million), while revenue fell 15.6 percent to 624.9 million pounds
* LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE - The LSE said income in the third quarter rose 48 percent, with all business divisions seeing revenue growth in the period.
* SHIRE - The company said Susan Kilsby will succeed Matthew Emmens as chairman of Shire.
* AVIVA - The insurer said its chief financial officer (CFO) Pat Regan would be stepping down in June to join QBE as the Australian insurer’s CFO.
* LONMIN - South Africa’s hardline Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union began a strike over pay in the platinum sector, bringing mines that produce half the world’s platinum to a standstill.
* UNILEVER - The consumer goods group is considering whether to sell its Slim-Fast business, Sky News reported, after months of speculation sparked by a similar move from rival Nestle.
* RBS - The author of a report into state-backed Royal Bank of Scotland’s lending to small businesses said he found no evidence of the bank engineering companies into default.
RBS is also among the banks being investigated by EU antitrust regulators for suspected rigging of interest rates linked to the Swiss franc, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
* ST. JAMES‘S PLACE - The British wealth manager saw its assets boosted by strong sales and recovering financial markets in 2013, rising nearly a third to 44.3 billion pounds.
* The UK blue chip index closed down 7.93 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,826.33 points the previous session, holding around 40 points below Tuesday’s eight-month high.
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