LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening up by 13 points, or 0.2 percent higher on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 1.6 percent at 6,945.20 points on Wednesday, just shy of its all time high at 6,974.26 points hit earlier this month.
* U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: The Federal Reserve on Wednesday moved a step closer to hiking rates for the first time since 2006, but downgraded its economic growth and inflation projections, signalling it is in no rush to push borrowing costs to more normal levels.
* NEXT : British clothing retailer Next met guidance with a 12.5 percent rise in year profit, powered by sales growth at both its stores and Directory internet business.
* ARM : British chip design firm ARM Holdings PLC said on Thursday its market share in servers may touch around 20 percent by 2020, up from less than 1 percent now, citing massive potential in the market for big data.
* ASTRAZENECA : Drugmaker AstraZeneca announced a collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo.
* HSBC : Former HSBC Holdings Plc executive Lord Green expressed his “dismay and regret” when questioned about tax evasion and avoidance at the bank’s Swiss branch by Channel 4 on Wednesday.
* SKY : Sky is to hike prices after the Premier League soccer auction, the Financial Times reported.
* TED BAKER : Fashion and clothes group Ted Baker posted higher profits.
* AUTO TRADER: The initial public offering of Auto Trader valued the company at 2.3 billion pounds.
* TRAVIS PERKINS : Construction company Travis Perkins announced 4,000 new jobs.
* ENQUEST : North-Sea-focused oil producer EnQuest booked $335 million in impairment charges last year due to the sharp decline in oil prices and reported a slight decrease in full-year pre-tax profits.
* OIL: Brent crude futures fell towards $55 a barrel on Thursday after a bigger than expected crude stock build in the United States, though losses were limited by a weaker dollar as the Federal Reserve signalled a slower pace of interest rate hikes.
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
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