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Feb 25 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 74-77 points, or 1.3 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. Futures were up 1.2 percent ahead of the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index FTSE 100 ended down 1.6 percent at 5,867.18 on Wednesday, as mining stocks and FTSE heavyweight Standard Chartered came under pressure for a second straight session.
* MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS: Merlin Entertainments reported flat profit for 2015, held back by a drop in visitors to its Alton Towers theme park in Britain after a rollercoaster crash in June left four people seriously injured.
* LLOYDS BANKING GROUP: Lloyds Banking Group on Thursday said its shareholders would get a special dividend of 0.5 pence a share, demonstrating its recovery from the financial crisis despite having to set aside an extra 2.1 billion pounds in the fourth quarter to compensate customers mis-sold loan insurance.
* RELX: RELX Plc, Europe’s largest media group, said it increased its dividend for 2015 and also its buyback target for 2016.
* COUNTRYWIDE: Countrywide reported a 16-percent fall in 2015 pre-tax profit as Britain’s largest estate agency by revenue said it struggled to maintain its share of sales outside of London.
* RSA: British insurer RSA posted a 2015 operating profit of 523 million pounds ($728.3 million), up 43 percent on a year earlier, it said on Thursday.
* BT: BT will have to open up more of its network to rivals and meet tougher targets on fixing faults, the regulator said, but it stopped short of recommending that Britain’s biggest telecoms group should be split up.
* NATIONAL EXPRESS: British transport group National Express posted a 15.5 percent rise in 2015 profit and said its confidence in further growth this year underpinned a 10 percent hike in its annual payout.
* ST JAMES PLACE: British wealth manager St James’s Place posted a forecast beating full-year operating profit on Thursday, bucking weak markets to profit from increased demand for its face-to-face advice.
* BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO: British American Tobacco, the world’s second-biggest tobacco company, reported a smaller-than-expected fall in 2015 revenue, helped by a smaller decline in organic cigarette volumes.
* SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell’s U.S. head Marvin Odum will step down after the company abandoned a troubled drilling project offshore Alaska, and the global oil company said on Wednesday it will split up its U.S. shale and Canadian oil sands unit.
* BHP BILLITON: BHP Billiton Ltd was sued in the United States by investors who accused the Anglo-Australian mining company of fraudulently overstating its ability to manage safety risks prior to November’s fatal dam burst at a Brazilian mine it co-owned and operated.
* BP: BP Plc swept up 1.5 million barrels of Qatari condensate loading in April, a rare move for the oil major, three traders that participate in the market said on Thursday.
* LSE/DEUTSCHE BOERSE: Deutsche Boerse Chief Executive Carsten Kengeter would run the day-to-day operations of a new company formed by a possible merger with the London Stock Exchange, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
* STANDARD CHARTERED: Standard Chartered’s landmark attempt to claw back bonuses paid to staff deemed responsible for its current woes could be fraught with practical and legal difficulties, lawyers and investors said.
* LLOYDS: A note jotted down by a senior director of Lloyds Banking Group during a 2008 board meeting saying there was “no value left in HBOS” ahead of an ill-fated takeover was taken out of context, a lawyer for Lloyds told a London court on Wednesday.
* RBS: Six banks and brokerages, including Royal Bank of Scotland, agreed to pay roughly $103 million to settle claims that they conspired to rig prices for U.S. municipal securities.
* EU BANKS: European Union banks will be tested on their ability to raise funds in thin bond markets in a shrinking economy hit by tumbling commodities and property prices, the bloc’s banking watchdog said on Wednesday.
* BANK OF ENGLAND: Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe said on Wednesday that he still believed Britain’s economy was in a slow recovery following the financial crisis but that the central bank was ready to provide more stimulus if needed.
* BRITAIN EU: Britain on Wednesday registered with the United Nations a deal on new terms for its membership in the European Union ahead of a June 23 national referendum on whether Britain should stay or quit the 28-nation bloc.
* BRITAIN AUTO: British car production rose 8 percent year-on-year in January, boosted by strong demand from overseas, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Thursday.
* COPPER: London copper climbed on Thursday, underpinned by a weaker dollar and gains in steel, but the rise was curbed by worries that stuttering global growth is stunting activity in top metals consumer China. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had risen 0.42 percent to $4,661 a tonne by 0555 GMT
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
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> 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)