LONDON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 42 to 46 points higher, or up as much as 0.7 percent, on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* Futures for the index were up 0.5 percent by 0725 GMT.
* The UK blue chip index closed 0.5 percent lower in the previous session.
* MARKS & SPENCER - The British retailer reported a 13th consecutive quarterly fall in underlying sales of general merchandise, hurt by unseasonably warm September weather.
* INTERTEK GROUP - The company said it has entered an agreement to provide analytical laboratory services to Statoil in Kalundborg, Denmark.
* BHP BILLITON - The miner is set to be the first company to export lightly processed ultra-light U.S. oil without explicit permission from the government, further testing the limits of an increasingly contentious ban on foreign sales.
* Britain’s economy is likely to grow slightly faster next year than previously forecast, as robust business investment outweighs risks from the euro zone, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said. It expected Britain’s economy to grow by 2.5 percent in 2015, up from a forecast of 2.3 percent NIESR made three months ago.
* The British government on Wednesday launched a consultation on new legislation to force mobile operators to improve coverage around the country.
* British shops matched a record decline in the price cuts in October and food prices looked at risk of falling into deflation, a survey by the British Retail Consortium showed.
* LANCASHIRE HOLDINGS - The British property and casualty insurer posted a 40 percent rise in third-quarter profit, helped by fewer major catastrophe losses and its acquisition of Lloyd’s of London insurer Cathedral Capital.
* Brent crude dropped towards $82 a barrel, stretching losses into a fifth session, as weak economic data from top energy consumer China stoked worries about demand in a market that is already battling a deepening global supply glut.
* Services sector growth in China weakened in October as new business cooled, a private survey showed, coming just days after previous data revealed sluggish factory growth in the world’s second largest economy.
* Gold slid for a fifth session in six, tumbling to fresh four-year lows as a strong dollar kept investors away from the safe-haven asset and physical demand failed to provide underlying support.
* London copper slipped for the second day to a near two-week low and Shanghai zinc shed 2.5 percent as weak China economic data compounded a selloff that started in oil and spilled over into base metals.
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