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Aug 25 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 13 points, or 0.2 percent lower on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down about 0.2 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* The UK blue chip index closed down 0.5 percent at 6,835.78 points on Wednesday, underperforming its European peers, as a sharp drop in metals prices put pressure on the mining sector and South Africa-exposed stocks fell as the rand slipped.
* PHOENIX GROUP: Phoenix Group Holdings, Britain's largest owner of life assurance funds closed to new customers, said Brexit and the sharp decline in long-term interest rates are factors that negatively impacted its Solvency II surplus.
* ESSENTRA: Filter products maker Essentra Plc said it had agreed to sell its clean wipes making unit to an affiliate of buyout specialist Madison Industries in a deal worth 220 million pounds ($291 million), exiting a non-core unit after a turbulent year.
* PLAYTECH: Gambling technology company Playtech Plc said on Thursday it would return 150 million euros ($169 million) to shareholders through a special dividend after reporting an 18 percent jump in first-half revenue, helped by strong performance in its gaming division.
* WPP: The majority owner of Germany's GfK is looking at strategic options for the market research firm, including a merger or sale, German weekly magazine WirtschaftsWoche reported on Thursday, citing no sources.
* BHP BILLITON: Samarco Mineração SA, the Brazilian iron ore joint venture that halted operations after a dam burst last year, plans to seek bondholder consent to change terms on $2.2 billion of securities or pursue an exchange offer, two people with knowledge of the situation said on Wednesday.
* OIL REFINERS: Oil refiners reeling from tumbling profits can expect some reprieve in the coming weeks as lower production will tame a huge global excess of gasoline and diesel.
* MILLENNIUM & COPTHORNE: Hotel operator Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Plc said on Wednesday Chief Executive Aloysius Lee notified the board of his impending resignation.
* SPORTS DIRECT: A powerful City group whose members manage assets worth a staggering 14 trillion pounds will on Thursday take the unprecedented step of publicly criticising corporate governance and working practices at Sports Direct International, Sky News reported on Wednesday. bit.ly/2bCh5zi
* SPORTS DIRECT: An employment agency that supplies warehouse workers to Sports Direct has put itself on a collision course with Members of Parliament after declining to amend evidence it gave at a parliamentary hearing, the Times reported on Thursday. bit.ly/2bB4sQz
* LLOYDS: Lloyds Banking Group Plc boss Antonio Horta-Osorio has broken his silence over allegations about his private life in a memo to staff expressing his deep regret for any "damage done to the group's reputation", Sky News reported on Thursday. bit.ly/2bB62St
* TESCO: Britain's biggest supermarket Tesco Plc is planning to offer a new same day "click and collect" service on grocery orders at nearly 300 stores nationwide, Sky News reported on Thursday. bit.ly/2bB5LPu
* OIL: Crude prices dipped on Thursday as brimming U.S. and Asian fuel inventories returned investor attention to a large global supply overhang, cutting short a price-rally and restricting Brent crude futures to below the $50 a barrel mark.
* GOLD: Gold on Thursday held slightly above a four-week low touched in the previous session as the dollar lost some strength ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that may yield clues on U.S. interest rate policy.
* METALS: Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was trading flat at $4,631 a tonne at 0040 GMT, following 1.7-percent losses in the previous session when it fell to its weakest since July 24 at $4,622.50
* EX-DIVS: Carnival Plc, Dixons Carphone Plc, Hammerson Plc , London Stock Exchange Group Plc, Prudential Plc, Taylor Wimpey Plc will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 2.16 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
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> 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 Pranav Kiran in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)