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LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening 1 to 4 points higher, or as much as 0.1 percent on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index ended 1.6 percent firmer on Wednesday at 6,728.04 points, the highest since early December.
* The European Central Bank is poised to announce a plan later in the day to buy government bonds, resorting to its last big policy tool for breathing life into the flagging euro zone economy and fending off deflation.
* A euro zone source said on Wednesday the ECB's Executive Board has proposed that the bank should buy 50 billion euros ($58 billion) in bonds per month from March.
* SMITHS GROUP - The company extended its relationship with AT&T to transform its global communication services and said the long-term agreement will support Smiths group's expanding global operations.
* BARCLAYS - New York's top law enforcer on Wednesday accused Barclays of defying his subpoenas in a probe of high-speed trading in its private "dark pool," and moved to expand his lawsuit accusing the British bank of fraud.
* The number of Britons switching bank accounts grew by 12 percent to 1.16 million in 2014, marking progress in the government's push to boost competition, the Payments Council said on Thursday.
* Oil prices dipped and London copper slipped from one-week highs anead of the ECB's policy meeting.
Royal Mail PLC Trading Statement Release
Chemring Group PLC Full Year 2014 Earnings Release
St. James's Place PLC Q4 2014 St. New Business Announcement
> 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; Editing by Francesco Canepa)