(Updates futures, adds company news items)
June 9 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 20 points, or 0.3 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down about 0.25 percent ahead of the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 16.99 points, or 0.3 percent, at 6,285.21 points on Wednesday, with a recovery in commodities prices underpinning basic resources and energy stocks.
* ASTRAZENECA: AstraZeneca said on Thursday it had agreed to sell the commercialisation rights for its portfolio of anaesthetics outside the United States to South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare for an initial payment of $520 million.
* HOME RETAIL: Home Retail’s Argos reported its best quarterly sales performance in two years on Thursday, indicating the distraction of a yet to complete takeover by supermarket Sainsbury’s has not damaged trade.
* ESSENTRA: Essentra Plc, a supplier of speciality plastic and packaging components, warned of lower full-year adjusted operating profit, citing challenging market conditions in filter products and delays in some large projects.
* BHP: BHP Billiton is studying an option to develop a massive new iron ore deposit in Australia to replace lost tonnes as operations age and reserves decline, according to the company and documents filed with environmental regulators.
* WINCANTON: British logistics company Wincanton Plc said on Thursday that it would reintroduce dividends, after reporting a rise in full-year revenue.
* BELLWAY: British housebuilder Bellway expects to build at least 10 percent more homes this financial year and has seen no effect on its business from the upcoming EU referendum, it said on Thursday.
* RPC GROUP: Packaging maker RPC Group Plc said it would buy British Polythene Industries Plc (BPI) for about 261 million pounds ($379 million) in a cash-and-stock deal, as it looks to consolidate the European polythene films market.
* VODAFONE: Britain’s Vodafone PLC agreed to sell its New Zealand unit to Auckland-based Sky Network Television Ltd for $2.4 billion in shares and cash, paving the way for a pivot by the British telecoms giant to faster growth markets in Asia.
* GLENCORE: Glencore has agreed to sell a 9.99 percent stake in its agricultural business to British Columbia Investment Management Corp for $624.9 million, as it continues a push to sell up to $5 billion worth of assets this year to help cut debt.
* HSBC/BRAZIL: Brazil’s antitrust watchdog on Wednesday approved Banco Bradesco SA’s purchase of HSBC Holdings Plc’s local unit with some conditions, marking the latest departure of a foreign lender from one of the world’s most concentrated banking markets.
* PEARSON: Pearson Plc is looking at several possible acquisitions in Brazil amid a wave of merger talks, an executive told Reuters, as the British education company aims to take advantage of a favorable exchange rate in a market where it is fast expanding.
* AMAZON/UK: Amazon launched a British version of its AmazonFresh food delivery service on Thursday in a long-anticipated move by the world’s largest online retailer to break into the UK grocery market.
* ECB/BREXIT: The European Central Bank is prepared to help steady financial markets should Britons vote this month to leave the European Union, ECB Executive Council member Benoit Coeure said in a France 24 interview.
* BRITAIN HOUSE PRICES: British house prices are set for their first fall in nearly four years over the next few months as the European Union referendum and a new tax on landlords turn buyers away, property valuers said on Thursday.
* EX-DIVS: Johnson Matthey,Vodafone Group, WPP Plc will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 9.78 points off the FTSE 100, according to Reuters calculations.
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
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Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru