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LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 9 to 11 points lower, or down as much as 0.16 percent, on Friday, according to financial bookmakers.
* Futures for the index were down 0.3 percent at 0634 GMT.
* The UK blue chip index, which hit an all-time high of 7,122.74 points on April 27, closed 0.2 percent higher at 6,960.63 points in the previous session. The index rose 2.8 percent in April.
* Trading volumes are expected to be lower as other major regional markets are closed on Friday for the May Day holiday.
* LLOYDS BANKING GROUP - Britain’s biggest retail bank reported a 21 percent rise in underlying pretax profit for the first quarter, reflecting an improved margin and lower losses for bad debts.
* BHP BILLITON - The world’s largest mining company said on Thursday that union blockades at its Cerro Matoso nickel operation in Colombia had forced it to declare force majeure with some customers.
* HSBC - A campaign group has begun a legal process that could lead to Britain’s tax authority facing a judicial review over its failure to take a tougher line with people alleged to have used accounts with an HSBC unit in Switzerland to evade tax.
* RENTOKIL INITIAL - British support services firm Rentokil Initial said it was on track to achieve its full-year expectations after it posted a 2.2 percent rise in revenue, helped by strong growth in Britain, North America and Latin America.
* VIRGIN MONEY - New British bank Virgin Money said gross mortgage lending jumped 34 percent in the first quarter, winning 3.6 percent share in the UK mortgage market.
* SMITHS GROUP, VESUVIUS - Engineering company Vesuvius said its Chief Financial Officer Chris O‘Shea would leave in September to become finance director at Smiths Group.
* Investors are expected to trade cautiously before the next week’s British general election. The ruling Conservatives and opposition Labour Party have been neck-and-neck in most polls since the start of the year, but by Thursday seven of the 10 pollsters covering the May 7 election had the Conservatives ahead by varying degrees.
* Oil futures hovered around 2015-highs on Friday after posting their biggest monthly gains for six years in April.
* London copper edged down on Friday on concerns about the health of China’s economy, but was set to close the week up nearly 5 percent in its largest weekly gain since Sept 2012, lifted by seasonal demand and a weaker dollar.
* Greece’s government signalled the biggest concessions so far as talks with lenders on a cash-for-reforms package started in earnest on Thursday, but tried to assure leftist supporters it had not abandoned its anti-austerity principles.
* CAPE - British energy services firm Cape said it had secured a two-year contract from BP worth about 100 million pounds ($153.43 million).
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
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> 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)