(Adds company news item)
March 15 Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 13
points on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up
0.1 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* LLOYDS: The British government has reduced its stake in Lloyds Banking
Group to just below 3 percent, putting the lender on track to be back
in private ownership within the next few months.
* GEM DIAMONDS: Gem Diamonds Ltd reported on Wednesday a 47 percent
fall in its full-year pretax profit, hurt by an impairment charge after it
mothballed the Ghaghoo mine in Botswana due to a fall in diamond
* HIKMA PHARMACEUTICALS: Drugmaker Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc said
its full-year core operating profit rose 2.4 percent as weakness in its generic
drugs business was more than offset by growth in its injectables and branded
* SHELL: Australia's top gas producers, led by ExxonMobil Corp and
Royal Dutch Shell, agreed to boost supply to the country's domestic
market to help avert an energy shortage following crisis talks with Prime
Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
* POLYMETAL: Russian gold and silver producer Polymetal said on
Wednesday its 2016 net earnings rose 79 percent year-on-year to $395 million due
to higher prices for precious metals and foreign exchange gains driven by a
* ASTRAZENECA: AstraZeneca's ovarian cancer drug Lynparza slashed
the risk of disease progression in a closely watched clinical trial, boosting
its profile against rivals within the novel PARP inhibitor drug class.
* BHP BILLITON: The Escondida copper mine in Chile plans to restart
operations after striking workers again rejected an invitation by controlling
owner BHP Billiton to return to negotiations, an executive told
reporters late Tuesday.
* UNILEVER: Fresh from defending Unilever against an unsolicited
$143 billion takeover attempt by Kraft Heinz, CEO Paul Polman said the
British government should ensure a level playing field for target companies.
* BREXIT: Sterling fell to an eight-week low against the dollar and the
basket of currencies measuring its broader strength on Tuesday, hit by fears of
prolonged political jousting over the terms of Britain's exit from the European
* BRITAIN-SCOTLAND: Support for Scottish independence is at its highest ever
but it might not be the best time for Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to
hold a new referendum, a survey by ScotCen's Scottish Social Attitudes said on
* BRITAIN-ECONOMY: Britain's construction industry could lose nearly 200,000
workers from European Union countries if the UK fails to keep access to the
bloc's single market, a leading property body said on Wednesday, as it called
for help for the sector.
* OIL: U.S. oil prices rose more than 2 percent in early Asian trade on
Wednesday, recovering from a three-month low after industry data showed a
surprise drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles and Goldman Sachs put a positive spin
on OPEC's compliance with output cuts.
* The UK blue chip FTSE 100 index closed closed 0.1 percent lower on
Tuesday, weighed down by banking stocks as Britain gets set to start negotiating
its departure from the European Union.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines
Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for:
* 3000 Xtra : visit topnews.session.rservices.com
* For Top News : topnews.reuters.com
(Reporting by Siju Varghese; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)