(Adds futures, company news items)
Feb 4 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 27 points, or 0.4 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up 1.7 percent ahead of the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed 84.87 points lower on Wednesday at 5837.14, pulled lower by financial stocks, with banks hitting their lowest levels in over 4 years and Hargreaves Lansdown among the top losers following a mixed earnings update.
* SHELL: Europe’s largest oil company reported its lowest annual income in at least 13 years on Thursday as slumping oil prices hit profits.
* ASTRAZENECA: The British drugmaker expects a low to mid single-digit percentage decline in earnings in 2016 as the arrival of cheap generic copies of cholesterol fighter Crestor offsets growth in sales of new medicines, the said on Thursday.
* VODAFONE: The mobile phone company met expectations with a 1.4 percent rise in revenue in its third quarter, its sixth consecutive quarter of growth, as recovery in Europe gained pace.
* SSE: British power producer SSE said it would likely close most of the units at its 1,995-megawatt Fiddler’s Ferry coal-fired plant from April 1, despite gaining a government capacity contract designed to incentivise back-up plants to stay online.
* COMPASS GROUP: The world’s biggest catering firm posted a 5.9 percent rise in first-quarter group revenue on the back of strong demand for its services in the United States and Europe.
* SMITH & NEPHEW: Europe’s largest maker of artificial hips and knees reported trading profit slightly ahead of consensus helped by strong demand for sports medicine in the fourth quarter, giving it confidence on growing revenues in 2016.
* BEAZLEY: Lloyd’s of London insurer reported an 8 percent rise in full-year pretax profit, helped in part by a benign catastrophe year.
* SPORTS DIRECT: The company has backed down from its legal battle with Rangers football club and abandoned efforts to prevent disclosure of the pair's joint venture, which has made the Old Firm club about 4 pence from every pound spent in its Ibrox store, the Guardian reported. (bit.ly/1PVsMhT)
* OIL: Crude oil futures extended gains from the previous session on Thursday, as a weaker dollar and unconfirmed talk of producers potentially meeting to discuss output cuts lifted the market despite record U.S. stocks.
* COPPER: London copper rose for second day to the most in a month as a falling U.S. dollar spurred interest in commodities, including oil, that prompted investors shorting the market to close their positions ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
* EX-DIVS: Imperial Tobacco and Unilever will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 2.91 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 Aastha Agnihotri in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)