(Adds futures, company news items)
April 1 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 45 points, or 0.7 percent, on Friday, according to financial bookmakers. Futures were down 0.7 percent ahead of the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed 0.5 percent lower on Thursday at 6,174.90, ending a weak first quarter on a downbeat note, although a recovery in mining shares helped it outperform euro zone indexes.
* SAINSBURY‘S: British supermarket group Sainsbury’s said on Friday its 1.4 billion-pound ($2 billion) offer for Argos-owner Home Retail Group had been recommended by the board of the catalogue retailer.
* DRAX: Power producer Drax Group Plc said it expects to report core profit for 2016 towards the top end of the range of current market forecasts, after signing a year-long contract with National Grid Plc.
* ARROW GLOBAL: Debt purchaser and manager Arrow Global Group Plc said it had agreed to buy InVesting B.V., a consumer debt purchaser and collections provider, for 78.5 million pounds ($112.6 million), giving it a “low risk entry” into the Belgian market.
* CO-OPERATIVE BANK: Britain’s Co-operative Bank posted a loss of 610 million pounds ($875 million) in 2015, bigger than the 264 million pounds it lost in the previous year, as the lender battles to turn around its fortunes.
* UK HOUSE PRICES: British house prices rose at their fastest annual pace in more than a year in March as buyers of properties to rent and second homes tried to beat the introduction of a new tax, mortgage lender Nationwide said on Friday.
* OLD MUTUAL: Financial services company Old Mutual is preparing to sell its Italian wealth management unit as part of a wider plan to break up its business, cut costs and revamp earnings, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
* TESCO: Tesco, Britain's biggest supermarket chain, is looking to sell its loss-making restaurant chain Giraffe, Sky News reported. (bit.ly/1RA5Mk1)
* STANDARD CHARTERED: A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed Standard Chartered Plc from a class-action lawsuit accusing 16 banks of harming investors by rigging prices in the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.
* SKY: British pay-TV company Sky is looking to sell, for 545 million pounds ($781 million), its headquarters and studios in west London, which it will then rent back in an expected 30-year deal, the Telegraph reported. (bit.ly/1RAJZbW)
* UK STEEL: British finance minister George Osborne said he was talking to other governments about taking action to prevent the dumping of cheap steel after Tata Steel, Britain’s biggest producer, put its operations up for sale.
* OIL: Oil futures fell in Asian trade on Friday as oversupply and a strengthening dollar weighed on sentiment, although another fall in U.S. oil output in January helped to limit the losses.
* GOLD: Gold steadied on Friday, set for a weekly rise and holding onto its biggest quarterly gain in nearly 30 years, but investors were cautious ahead of a U.S. jobs report.
* COPPER: Copper futures inched up on Friday, following an overnight spurt of end-of-quarter selling, with gains tempered as investors weighed the impact of S&P’s downgrade for China’s outlook versus an unexpected growth in the country’s manufacturing activity.
* CHINA FACTORY ACTIVITY: China’s manufacturing activity unexpectedly expanded in March for the first time in nine months, an official survey showed on Friday, adding to hopes that downward pressure on the world’s second-largest economy is easing.
* JAPAN MANUFACTURERS: Business sentiment among Japan’s big manufacturers deteriorated to the lowest in nearly three years and is expected to worsen in the coming quarter, a closely watched central bank survey showed on Friday, heightening pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Bank of Japan to do more to shore up the ailing economy. TODAY‘S UK PAPERS > Financial Times > Other business headlines ($1 = 0.70 pounds) (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)