LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Britain’s leading share index is expected to open up 37 to 43 points, or as much as 0.7 percent, on Thursday, extending a rebound from the previous session. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* U.S. Federal Reserve bank chairman Ben Bernanke sparked a rally on Wednesday, following a sharp sell-off at the start of the week, after he defended the Fed’s asset purchases programme and downplayed signs of internal divisions.
* European Central Bank head Mario Draghi issued a similarly dovish set of comments.
* The FTSE 100 index closed up 55.44 points, or 0.9 percent, at 6,325.88 points on Wednesday, recovering around two-thirds of Tuesday’s 85 point drop suffered after Italian elections ended in a stalemate.
* British consumer morale held steady in February, maintaining January’s gains, though sentiment remained low by historic standards, a survey by researchers GfK NOP showed on Thursday. GfK’s headline consumer confidence index came in at -26, matching January’s reading, better than in December and in the same month a year ago and beating analysts’ expectations of -27.
* No other important British economic data will be released on Thursday, so investors will eye a batch of U.S. economic pointers later in the day.
* U.S. preliminary fourth-quarter real GDP data will be unveiled at 1330 GMT, together with the latest weekly U.S. initial jobless claims.
* Royal Bank of Scotland : The part-nationalised bank said it had moved closer to being in a position for the government to start selling its 82 percent stake in the bank.
RBS made an operating profit of 3.5 billion pounds ($5.24 billion), up from 1.8 billion the year before and the highest since its bailout in 2008.
* British American Tobacco : The world’s second-biggest cigarette maker, reported a 7 percent rise in earnings in 2012, broadly in line with market expectations.
* Reed Elsevier : The Anglo-Dutch publishing and events group reported full-year results in line with forecasts and said it expected further revenue and earnings growth this year.
* Kazakhmys : The London-listed Kazakh miner posted a drop of more than 30 percent in its 2012 core profit, excluding the impact of its share in rival ENRC, as weak prices hit revenue and failed to offset rising costs.
* International Airlines Group : The owner of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia, swung to a full-year operating loss, hit by its underperforming Spanish unit and higher fuel costs.
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