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LONDON, May 21 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 futures contract edged down 0.1 percent on Thursday. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 0.2 percent at 7,007.26 points on Wednesday.
* BANKS/FOREIGN EXCHANGE: Four major banks pleaded guilty on Wednesday to trying to manipulate foreign exchange rates and, with two others, were fined nearly $6 billion in another settlement in a global probe into the $5 trillion-a-day market. Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Barclays Plc, UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc were accused by U.S. and UK officials of brazenly cheating clients to boost their own profits using invitation-only chat rooms and coded language to coordinate their trades.
* FEDERAL RESERVE: Federal Reserve officials believed it would be premature to hike interest rates in June even though most felt the U.S. economy was set to rebound from a dismal start to the year, according to minutes from their April policy meeting released on Wednesday.
* ROYAL MAIL : Britain’s postal firm Royal Mail said trading in its new fiscal year had started in line with expectations as cost cuts helped ease tough parcels trade to deliver a rise in full year profit.
* INVESTEC : South African’s Investec reported a 10.2 percent rise in full-year profit on Thursday, helped by a strong showing at its asset management and lending businesses.
* NATIONAL GRID : Britain’s gas and electricity network operator National Grid reported an 11 percent rise in annual pretax profit, allowing the company to pay shareholders a full-year dividend of 42.87 pence, up 2 percent year on year.
* UNITED UTILITIES : British water supplier United Utilities reported a 4 percent rise in full-year operating profit to 653.3 million pounds ($1.02 billion) and will pay shareholders an annual dividend of 37.70 pence per share, a slight improvement on last year’s payouts.
* DARTY : Darty Plc, Europe’s third-largest electrical goods retailer, said on Thursday that despite improving consumer confidence its markets remained challenging, particularly in multimedia.
* MOTHERCARE : Baby products retailer Mothercare reported higher profits.
* JUST EAT : Online and mobile food takeaway group Just Eat announced plans to raise 445 million pounds.
* BWIN.PARTY : London-listed online gambling company Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc said it expects to reach a conclusion in the coming weeks on the bid proposals it received from various third parties.
* BRITAIN/EU: Prime Minister David Cameron will unveil what aides call a “far-reaching” immigration crackdown on Thursday on the eve of a European Union summit he will use to tentatively start renegotiating Britain’s ties with the bloc.
* The European Union risks pricing itself out of the global economy by excessive regulation, British finance minister George Osborne said on Wednesday, making the case for reforms in the bloc ahead of a referendum on whether Britain remains a member.
* BP : BP Plc has settled with oilfield services provider Halliburton Co and contract driller Transocean Ltd cross claims related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the worst offshore disaster in U.S. history. BP still faces a potential fine of up to $13.7 billion under the U.S. Clean Water Act.
* BOOKER : Booker Group Plc, Britain’s biggest cash-and-carry wholesaler, has agreed to buy the Londis convenience store chain and the Budgens grocery store chain for 40 million pounds ($62.2 million) from privately owned Musgrave Group.
* GOLDMAN SACHS : Peter Sutherland is to bow out as Goldman Sachs International chairman, the Financial Times reported.
* GLAXOSMITHKLINE : The Daily Mail’s stock market report cited takeover speculation surrounding healthcare group GlaxoSmithKline after a Deutsche Bank analyst’s research note said Pfizer could benefit from a tie-up with Glaxo.
* OIL PRICE: Oil edged up on Thursday, supported by a drawdown in U.S. crude inventories.
* METALS: London copper futures steadied near their lowest level in three weeks early on Thursday.
* EX-DIVIDENDS: Banking group HSBC and housebuilder Taylor Wimpey are among several stocks going ex-dividend on Thursday, which will take around 6 points off the FTSE 100 index.
* UK RETAIL SALES: Retail sales figures are due to be released at 0930 local time in London.
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)