(Adds company news item, updates futures)
March 9 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 21 points at 7,314 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 0.5 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to sell most of its Canadian oil sands assets for $7.25 billion to Canadian Natural, the company said on Thursday.
* BT GROUP-RIO TINTO: Britain’s <BT BT.L> has appointed Jan du Plessis, chairman of miner Rio Tinto , as its next chairman, taking over from Mike Rake who has led the telecoms group for 10 years.
* AVIVA: British insurer Aviva on Thursday posted a 12 percent increase in full-year operating profit to 3 billion pounds ($3.65 billion), boosted by growth in its fund arm, Aviva Investors, as well as its British, Canadian and Irish units.
* OLD MUTUAL: Anglo-South African financial services group Old Mutual reported a slightly above-forecast 2016 adjusted operating profit of 1.67 billion pounds on Thursday, up 1 percent from a year earlier, as it prepares to slice itself into four parts.
* COUNTRYWIDE: Countrywide reported a 59 percent fall in 2016 profit as Britain’s largest estate agency by revenue said a property tax increase and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last year made it a challenging year for the company.
* DOMINO‘S PIZZA: Britain’s biggest pizza delivery firm Domino’s Pizza said full-year operating profit rose 17.1 percent as online and mobile orders surged.
* BHP Billiton: BHP Billiton may try to restart production at the world’s No.1 copper mine Escondida in Chile using temporary workers once the strike surpasses 30 days, the company told a local radio station on Wednesday.
* BRITAIN-BUDGET: Britain’s 2017 budget gave some meagre support on Wednesday to domestic stock and currency markets suffering from nerves over its plans to leave the European Union and the fallout for increasingly hard-pressed consumers.
* BREXIT: Britain’s economy is likely to feel the pain of Brexit more sharply in the coming years despite holding up well so far, according to finance minister Philip Hammond’s latest plan to steer the economy through its split from the European Union.
* BRITAIN-BONDS: Gilt yields hit a two-week high after Britain said it planned to sell more government bonds than the market had expected, despite finance minister Philip Hammond largely sticking to existing fiscal plans in Wednesday’s annual Budget.
* OIL: Oil prices climbed on Thursday after sharp losses the session before, buoyed by strong compliance with touted international production cuts, although a surge in U.S. crude inventories continued to drag.
* GOLD: Gold prices inched down to the lowest level in five weeks on Thursday, pressured by an uptick in the dollar ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday.
* EX-DIVS: BHP Billiton, CRH, Hargreaves Lansdown, Land Securities Group, Persimmon and Shire will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 5.36 points off the FTSE 100, according to Reuters calculations.
* The blue-chip FTSE 100 closed 0.06 percent lower on Wednesday, as Britain’s budget statement delivered few surprises, although builders got a small boost from reassuring comments on infrastructure spending.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
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