LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening up by 23 to 27 points, or 0.4 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 down 0.4 percent at 6,937.41 points on Wednesday.
* Engineer GKN and fashion retailer Next are among companies going ex-dividend on Thursday.
* MULBERRY : Fashion and women’s handbags company Mulberry forecast profits slightly ahead of market expectations.
* SHIRE : Shire’s Alagille syndrome drug does not meet a study goal, the drugmaker said.
* CO-OP: Britain’s Co-Operative Group, the supermarket to funerals operator that came to the brink of collapse in 2013, said it had returned to profit in 2014 thanks to a rescue programme.
* AFREN : Oil company Afren said it had delayed interest payment on 2019 bonds.
* GULF KEYSTONE : Iraqi Kurdistan-focused oil producer Gulf Keystone Petroleum reported a $248.2 million loss after tax for 2014 as the company said it was still owed around $100 million for crude oil it has sold.
* FASTJET : Budget airline Fastjet said its load factor in March rose 3 percent.
* U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: The Federal Reserve could still raise interest rates in June despite weak recent U.S. data and investor skepticism, two influential officials with the central bank said on Wednesday, putting the spotlight squarely on the economy’s performance in the next two months.
* UK ELECTION: Before Britain’s May 7 election, the opposition Labour Party has a one percentage point lead over Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives, according to a YouGov poll for The Sun newspaper.
* COPPER: London copper slipped on Thursday as traders eyed minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting that signalled a June rate rise may still be on the table, which lifted the dollar and dented the allure of commodities.
* OIL: Oil prices rose more than a percent on Thursday, regaining some of its 6 percent slump from the previous session, which came after reports of an increase in U.S. crude inventories and record Saudi output, although analysts said sentiment remained bearish.
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
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