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LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 futures contract edged up 0.2 percent on Thursday, indicating a steadier open for the main cash market after the index had fallen to a three-week low on Wednesday. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index fell to a three-week low on Wednesday, closing down 1.2 percent at 6,946.28 points.
* UK ELECTION: With Britain’s May 7 election just eight days away, Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party were tied at 35 percent each, according to a ComRes poll.
Britain’s best selling newspaper, The Sun, came out in support of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives citing the economy, fears about the power of Scottish nationalists and Cameron’s promise of a referendum on European Union membership.
* U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: The Federal Reserve downgraded its view of the U.S. labor market and economy on Wednesday in a policy statement that suggested the central bank may have to wait until at least the third quarter to begin raising interest rates.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND : Royal Bank of Scotland set aside 856 million pounds ($1.3 billion) to cover charges for past misconduct and litigation, helping push the state-backed lender to a loss in the first quarter.
* ROYAL DUTCH SHELL : Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday reported adjusted net income of $3.2 billion, beating analysts expectations, as refining and trading profits offset a decline in earnings from oil and gas production.
* SMITH & NEPHEW : Smith & Nephew, Europe’s largest maker of artificial knees and hips, posted a 3 percent underlying rise in revenue for the first quarter, helped by strong growth in sports medicine joint repair and increased trade in emerging markets.
* INTERNATIONAL CONSOLIDATED AIRLINES GROUP : British Airways-owner IAG reported a quarterly profit, swinging into the black from a seasonal loss for the first time, helped by lower fuel costs and an improvement in performance across its three airlines.
* SCHRODERS : British asset manager Schroders said assets under management rose 7 percent in the three months to the end of March as it took in net new money from institutional and retail clients.
* TULLOW OIL : Africa-focused oil and gas explorer Tullow Oil said it would incur a one-off $45 million charge related to its cost-saving programme in light of weak oil prices but said the business was performing in line with expectations.
* UK CONSUMER CONFIDENCE: British consumer morale held steady at its highest level in more than 12 years in April, mixed news for Prime Minister David Cameron before the May 7 national election, according to researchers GfK.
* BRITAIN/IRAN: Britain has informed a United Nations sanctions panel of an active Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms, according to a confidential report by the panel seen by Reuters.
* OIL PRICES: Oil prices slipped away from five-month highs in early Asian trading on Thursday as Japanese factory output weakened for the second straight month.
* METALS: London copper slipped on Thursday after surprisingly weak U.S growth in the first quarter cast a pall over the strength of the world’s top economy, potentially dampening a recovery in metals 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 Sudip Kar-Gupta)