(Corrects company name in fifth item to John Lewis from John Lewis of Hungerford)
Jan 4 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 37 points, or 0.59 percent lower on Monday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed 0.5 points lower at 6242.32 points on Thursday as weak commodity prices weighed on markets in the final quarter.
* SHIRE: Shire appears to be inching towards an agreement with Baxalta, the producer of specialist treatments for cancer and haemophilia, that the Dublin-based pharmaceuticals company has been trying to buy since last summer, The Times reported. (thetim.es/1JSdWAT)
* LLOYDS BANKING GROUP: Lloyds Banking Group is set to become a fully privately owned company by the summer for the first time since its 20 billion pounds ($29.47 billion) taxpayer-funded bailout as the UK sells its remaining 9 percent stake, The Times reported. (thetim.es/1JSec2K)
* TESCO: Tesco Plc’s subsidiary in Turkey has decided to hang onto some of its stores instead of selling them to rival Turkish retailer Begendik after their performance improved strongly, it said on Saturday.
* RETAILERS: Record-breaking discounts on offer in the post-Christmas sales have so far failed to attract a rush of bargain hunters to the high street, raising fears that Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Next PLC will be forced to report disappointing trading figures for the festive period, The Guardian reported. (bit.ly/1JSeB5m)
* BP: The slump in global oil prices could hit bottom in early 2016 although prices are likely to remain low for the next couple of years, BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said.
* BIG OIL: With crude prices at 11-year lows, the world’s biggest oil and gas producers are facing their longest period of investment cuts in decades, but are expected to borrow more to preserve the dividends demanded by investors.
* NORTH SEA STORM: A fierce storm in the North Sea forced oil firms to evacuate platforms and shut down production on Thursday on concerns that they could be hit by a drifting barge that had broken its anchor.
*IRAN OIL: A rise in Iran’s crude oil exports once sanctions against it are lifted depends on future global oil demand and should not further weaken oil prices, senior officials were quoted as saying.
* OIL: Oil prices surged during the start of 2016 trading as relations between top crude producers Saudi Arabia and Iran deteriorated, raising concerns about potential supply disruptions, though weak Asian manufacturing data kept a lid on bullish expectations. Global oil benchmark Brent rose 0.91 percent to $38.19 at 0542 GMT on Monday. U.S. crude’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 2.08 percent, at $37.81 a barrel.
* BANKS: Two more investment banks have reported paying zero tax in Britain in 2014, prompting the opposition Labour party to urge the government to reverse a tax change it made for banks last year. Seven of the 10 biggest foreign investment and commercial banks operating in Europe’s main investment banking centre have said their main British arms paid no tax in that year.
*BANKS: The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has scrapped two more probes into the banking industry, The Times reported on Thursday, less than a day after the regulator dropped another review of Britain’s banking culture.
*CHINA: China looked set for a soggy start to 2016 after activity in the manufacturing sector contracted for a fifth straight month in December, suggesting the government may have to step up policy support to avert a sharper slowdown.
*UK ECONOMY: Growth in Britain’s private sector picked up speed in the three months to December and companies think the momentum will carry on into early 2016, a leading employers group said, suggesting a recent slowing of the economy might be easing.
* BRITAIN EU MEMBERSHIP: The majority of big British businesses that favour Britain remaining in the European Union has dwindled over the last six months, according to a quarterly survey of chief financial officers published on Monday.
*FLOOD DEFENCE: Britain’s government has promised more than 40 million pounds ($59 million) to rebuild and improve the country’s flood defences that failed to protect thousands of homes over the Christmas holidays.
*COPPER: London copper started 2016 on a sour note on Monday after data showed small factories in top consumer China continued to slow into December, compounding a difficult outlook for metals as a stronger dollar pushed down on commodities. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange had edged down 1 percent to $4,658 a tonne by 0545 GMT.
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 Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)