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LONDON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which climbed to a record high in the previous session, is likely to open 7 points lower, or down 0.1 percent, on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The benchmark index hit life-time high of 6,958.89 points on Tuesday, surpassing its previous high of 6,950.60 set on Dec 30, 1999. The index closed 0.5 percent higher at 6,949.63 points in the previous session.
* RIO TINTO - The global miner will not be taken over by rival Glencore because there is no value in it for shareholders and regulators will never let it happen, Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said.
* WEIR GROUP - Engineer Weir Group said it expected a significant reduction in revenue on a constant currency basis, as well as lower operating margins, in 2015.
* MAN GROUP - Man Group reported a 62 percent jump in adjusted pretax profit to $481 million for 2014 as it benefited from cost savings and booked higher performance fees.
* ST. JAMES‘S PLACE - British wealth manager St James’s Place posted forecast-beating full-year cash profits on Wednesday, boosted by a rise in assets, underpinning a surprise increase in the firm’s final dividend.
* BARRATT DEVELOPMENTS - Housebuilder Barratt Developments posted a 75 percent rise in profit in the six months to end-December on Wednesday after it completed 6,971 new homes, and said its second half had started well.
* MORRISONS - Britain’s No. 4 supermarket has named former Tesco TSCO.L executive David Potts as its new chief executive, succeeding Dalton Philips who was ousted in January.
* INTERNATIONAL PERSONAL FINANCE - The company reported a 4.6 percent rise in full-year pretax profit before exceptional items as it lent more in Poland and Lithuania, its biggest markets.
* WHITBREAD - The company said it expected to post full-year profit toward the top end of market forecasts as strong demand at its Premier Inn hotels and Costa Coffee chain helped deliver a 5.8 percent rise in fourth quarter underlying sales.
* HAYS - The British recruiting firm raised its dividend after it posted a 10 percent rise in underlying net fees on strong growth in Britain and Australia.
* TSB BANKING GROUP - The new British bank said its full-year pretax profit rose 2.3 percent, as the number of new accounts increased.
* ASTRAZENECA - The drugmaker has boosted its early-stage research in autoimmune disease by signing a three-year research deal with start-up firm Orca Pharmaceuticals, a small British biotech company formed in 2013, on a new class of drugs.
* Britain’s government and regulators are not ready for pension reforms, six weeks ahead of their launch date, the head of the insurance body said.
* ROYAL DUTCH SHELL - The largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years could spread if talks over improved safety conditions do not resume soon, United Steelworkers union (USW) International President Leo Gerard said on Tuesday.
* Brent crude edged up towards $59 a barrel on Wednesday, helped by better than expected Chinese factory activity data, the Federal Reserve’s flexible stance on U.S. interest rates and the euro zone’s approval of reforms proposed by Greece.
* Activity in China’s mammoth factory sector edged up to a four-month high in February but export orders shrank at their fastest rate in 20 months, a private survey showed, painting a murky outlook that argues for more policy support.
* London copper slipped from a six-week high hit the session before, as China returned from a week-long holiday and resumed selling on the prospect of ample local metal supply.
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 Atul Prakash)