March 31, 2017 / 6:43 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 31

(Adds company news items, futures)

March 31 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 19 points at 7,351 points on Friday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 0.4 percent ahead of the cash market open.

* CHESNARA: Chesnara Plc, an insurance-focused takeover specialist, said on Friday it was “optimistic” that the UK acquisition market would become more active as uncertainty caused by regulatory changes and Solvency II capital rules reduces.

* BT: Britain’s telecoms regulator said it planned to promote investment in faster broadband by cutting the price that network operator BT can charge other operators for connections with download speeds of up to 40 Mbit per second.

* DIAGEO: Diageo, the world’s largest spirits maker, spotted in 2015 that drinkers in the emerging middle class in Ghana and Cameroon were keen to show off their new status by buying their own bottles of Johnnie Walker rather than shots.

* BRITAIN TREASURY: The British government said on Friday it has sold a portfolio of mortgages that were issued by failed lender Bradford & Bingley to insurer Prudential and buyout firm Blackstone, for 11.8 billion pounds ($14.7 billion).

* BRITAIN HOUSE PRICES: British house prices fell in March for the first time since mid-2015, mortgage lender Nationwide said on Friday, another sign that households are turning more cautious as the country prepares to leave the European Union.

* SMITHS GROUP: The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it will require Smiths Group Plc to divest Morpho Detection LLC and Morpho Detection International LLC’s global explosive trace detection business for Smiths to proceed with its proposed $710 million acquisition of Morpho from Safran SA .

* JOHN LEWIS: John Lewis, Britain’s largest department store operator, is hopeful any downturn in consumer spending will see history repeat itself with a “flight to quality” rather than consumers opting to trade down, its new boss said on Thursday.

* BRITAIN M&A: Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity involving British companies remained relatively robust in the first quarter of the year despite expectations of a slowdown ahead of the country’s divorce from the European Union.

* BRITAIN ECONOMY: British consumer morale steadied in March but households remain downbeat about the outlook for the economy as the process of leaving the European Union gets underway, a survey showed on Friday.

* BREXIT: The European Union will tell Britain on Friday how it aims to negotiate its “orderly withdrawal” from the bloc, limit uncertainties for businesses and pave the way for a close future partnership.

* OIL: Oil prices eased on Friday as traders took profits following three days of straight gains on the expectation that an OPEC-led crude supply cut that was initially supposed to only last for the first half of the year would be extended.

* The UK blue chip FTSE 100 index closed down 0.06 percent at 7,369.52 on Thursday, with mining stocks providing the most support, while stocks trading without their dividends weighed on the market.

* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets


> Financial Times

> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit * For Top News : (Reporting by Siju Varghese; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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