March 31, 2014 / 6:30 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Monday March 31

(Adds futures, company news)

LONDON, March 31 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is set to open higher on Monday, with futures firming by 0.3 percent at 0619 GMT. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on

* The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed up by 0.4 percent, or 27.26 points, at 6,615.58 points, buoyed by gains in mining stocks that outweighed another slump in the insurance sector, which was hit by signs of further regulatory pressure.

* ASTRAZENECA - The British pharmaceutical, which will complete its move to Cambridge by 2016, is already putting down roots in the ecosystem of the university city, and said on Monday it had struck an unique deal with the state-funded Medical Research Council (MRC) under which academic scientists will work alongside its staff at its new Cambridge site.

* GLASXOSMITHKLINE - GlaxoSmithKline plans to make new investments in additional factories and drug research in Africa, its chief executive said on Sunday, as the pharmaceuticals group broadens its bet on promising emerging markets.

* BRITISH RETAIL - Chinese business tycoon Yuan Yafei is in talks with British department store group House of Fraser (IPO-HFD.L) regarding a bid that values the company at more than 450 million pounds ($749 million), according to a source familiar with the situation.

* GLENCORE XSTRATA - The commodities giant has reached a preliminary deal for a $1 billion contract for access to railway and port facilities with Mauritania as part of its plans to expand into iron ore mining, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

In other news, Glencore Xstrata and Tohoku Electric Power Co have settled the first Japanese annual Australian thermal-coal import contract at $81.80 per tonne, sources said on Monday.

* INSURERS - The Financial Conduct Authority will set out plans on Monday for an increase in its annual funding requirement for 2014-15, Sky News reported late Sunday, after the Sunday Times reported that Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA, is facing calls for his resignation after a gaffe that wiped billions of pounds from the value of insurance companies.

* BABCOCK - Babcock International, the owner of the dockyard assembling the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, has warned that Scottish independence would bring at least two years of “complete uncertainty”, the Sunday Times reported.

* ROYAL MAIL GROUP - The National Audit Office will publish this week its findings on last autumn’s £3.3 billion sell-off of the deliveries group by the Government. Ministers, investment bankers and senior civil servants are bracing themselves for government auditors’ verdict on the flotation of Royal Mail, which appears to have lost taxpayers in excess of £1 billion, the Times reported.

* YOUGOV - The British-listed polling company reported a 9 percent rise in revenue and a 31 percent rise in adjusted operating profit, saying it was well placed to deliver further growth in the second half of the year.

* POLYMETAL - Russian precious metals miner Polymetal said on Monday it had recorded a net loss of $198 million last year compared to a $428 million profit in 2012 on lower gold prices, non-cash foreign exchange losses and impairment charges.

* IGAS - UK shale gas explorer IGas Energy said it had encountered parts of the promising Sabden and Bowland Shale formations in its drilling programme at Barton Moss, near Manchester in northern England.

* GLOBAL TRANS - Russian freight company Globaltrans Investment said its 2013 net profit fell 19 percent year-on-year, hit by depreciation costs related to its recent acquisitions.


> Financial Times

> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit * BridgeStation: view story .134 For more information on Top News visit (Reporting by Alistair Smout)

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