(Adds company news, futures)
Jan 7 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 77-79 points, or 1.3 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 1.77 percent by 0728 GMT ahead of the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index FTSE 100 index closed down 1 percent at 6,073.38 points on Wednesday, as shares in commodity-related companies were hit by new worries over China, the world’s largest consumer of metals, while North Korea’s nuclear test added to investors’ nervousness.
* LLOYDS BANK: The U.K.'s financial watchdog is investigating possible manipulation of the British government-bond market by traders at Lloyds Banking Group PLC, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported.(on.wsj.com/1ON9f2C)
* POUNDLAND: British discount retailer Poundland said fewer shoppers on the high street this Christmas hit its sales growth, and would result in profits coming towards the lower end of forecasts.
* PERSIMMON: Britain’s second-biggest housebuilder by volume Persimmon said on Thursday that its revenue rose 13 percent last year as it built more homes, boosted by strong sales in the second half of the year.
* CENTAMIN: Centamin Plc forecast full-year production from its main Sukari gold mine in Egypt ahead of 2015, as it continues to ramp-up production in expanded areas of the mine.
* MARKS & SPENCER: Marc Bolland will step down as the boss of Marks & Spencer in April, bringing an end to six difficult years at the British retailer following yet another poor Christmas trading.
* LEGAL & GENERAL: Workers at British insurer Legal & General have voted for industrial action over the threatened closure of a regional office, trade union Unite said on Wednesday, their first such move since the 1970s.
* BRITAIN ECONOMY: British economic growth is at risk of slowing further and looks increasingly lop-sided, the British Chambers of Commerce said on Thursday after it reported that factory exports grew at their weakest pace since 2009 late last year.
* UK CARS: British new car registrations hit an all-time high last year, two sources told Reuters citing preliminary industry data, helped by rising consumer confidence, the strength of the pound and cheap car loans.
* BRITAIN BONDS: Short-dated British government bond prices rose to their highest level since late October on Wednesday as sharp falls in share prices and soft economic data boosted the appeal of fixed-income assets.
* BRITAIN BANKS/EU: Britain’s financial sector has thrived in the European Union and quitting the 28-country bloc could limit access to a huge market and trigger an “investment pause” due to inevitable disruptions, senior bankers told lawmakers on Wednesday.
* BRITAIN EU EXIT: A majority of Britons who have made up their minds would vote to leave the European Union, making Britain by far the most Eurosceptic country in the 28-member bloc, according to an ORB opinion poll published on Thursday.
* OIL: Brent crude futures fell to a fresh 11-year low on Thursday as a sliding yuan and an emergency halt in China’s stock trading left Asian markets in a turmoil, while a huge supply overhang and near-record output levels also continued to drag on oil prices. The global benchmark Brent fell to $33.09 per barrel, the weakest since 2004 and below the previous 11-year low from Wednesday. Prices, however, edged back to $32.68 by 0734 GMT.
* GOLD: Gold climbed above $1,100 an ounce for the first time in nine weeks on Thursday as investors channelled money into the safe-haven metal amid a global stock market rout, worries over the Chinese economy and heightened geopolitical tensions. Spot gold rose to a nine-week high of $1,102.80 an ounce, before paring some gains to trade up 0.33 percent at $1,098 by 0735 GMT.
* EX-DIVS: Aberdeen Asset Management,British Land and Johnson Matthey will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 0.99 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations.
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 * BridgeStation: view story .134 For more information on Top News visit topnews.reuters.com (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)