(Adds company news)
LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 4 to 11 points higher, or as much as 0.2 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed 0.28 percent higher at 6,721.51 points in the previous session.
* WM MORRISON SUPERMARKETS - Annual profit at Britain’s fourth biggest grocer slumped 52 percent to an eight-year low, damaged by last year’s strategic decision to slash prices to stem the loss of shoppers to discounters Aldi and Lidl.
* ASOS - Retail sales up 19 percent in three months to 28 February 2015. [ID: nFWN0WD02M]
* HOME RETAIL GROUP - Britain’s biggest household goods retailer Home Retail delivered a weaker-than-expected finish to the year at both its Argos and Homebase chains, although it said cost controls and improvements to its margin had helped the bottom line.
* SOCO INTERNATIONAL - Oil producer Soco has proposed to pay a 10 pence-per-share dividend, maintaining shareholder payouts despite a 54 percent fall in profits last year on the back of weak oil prices.
* SERCO - The companmy kicked off a 555 million pound ($831 million) rights issue and said it had the right plan in place to turn the embattled British outsourcing firm around after a spectacular collapse in profits and reputation.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND GROUP - A bond trader pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to defraud Royal Bank of Scotland Group customers by lying about the prices of bond transactions he handled for them in an effort to boost the bank’s profit.
* ANTOFAGASTA - The company said it had reached an agreement to resolve protest actions announced on March 8 and normal operations will be resumed in the coming days.
* ITV - British broadcaster ITV has agreed a deal to buy Talpa Media, the firm behind the reality TV programme The Voice, for an initial fee of 355 million pounds ($531 million).
* MULBERRY - British luxury handbag maker Mulberry named Thierry Andretta as its new chief executive, appointing one of the current non-executive directors of the firm to take over from April 7.
* ROYAL MAIL - A committee of British lawmakers on Thursday warned postal operator Royal Mail not to increase its prices to help the firm meet its state-mandated delivery obligations, and to instead focus on improving efficiency.
* CINEWORLD GROUP - The company’s full-year pretax earnings more than doubled, helped by higher box office revenue.
* BHP BILLITON - The miner said it has suspended its Blackwater coal operations in Australia after a worker at the mine, a father of two and grandfather of two, was killed in a truck accident on Thursday.
* regulator Ofcom announced an overarching review of UK’s digital communications markets to ensure that communications providers and services continue to meet needs of consumers and businesses.
* British house prices rose more than expected in February, according to a survey by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) that suggested a growing shortage of properties might herald the end of a slowdown in the market.
* Several FTSE 100 companies will go ex-dividend on Thursday, after which investors will no longer qualify for the latest dividend payout. According to Reuters calculations, the effect of the resulting adjustment to prices by market-makers would take 8.24 points off the index.
* The companies trading ex-dividend are: BHP Billiton, Direct Line Insurance Group, Hargreaves Lansdown, Hammerson
, Land Securities Group, Randgold Resources, Shire and Standard Chartered.
* Brent crude climbed above $58 a barrel on Thursday for the second straight session as speculators covered their positions ahead of the April contract’s expiry, while a strengthening dollar and a build in U.S. crude stocks capped prices.
* London copper remained close to two-week lows on Thursday, moving little as expectations of an impending U.S. rate rise that boosted the dollar were balanced by supply concerns, against the backdrop of a slow pick-up in Chinese demand.
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 Atul Prakash)