(Adds company news, futures)
LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 7 points, or 0.1 percent higher on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up 0.1 percent ahead of the market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which had its worst weekly loss in 2015 last week, rose 0.5 percent on Tuesday, up 33.53 points at 6,837.61 points by the close. It was 2 percent below a record high of 6,974.26 points reached on March 2.
* British finance minister George Osborne will try to make voters feel that the economy’s recovery is finally working for them when he delivers an annual budget on Wednesday, seven weeks before a national election that remains too close to call.
* BANKS - The British units of foreign banks could be required by UK regulators to submit to annual health exams for the first time, banking and industry sources said, potentially bringing Britain’s policies into line with those of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
* BARCLAYS - Citigroup Inc and Barclays are close to settling as early as this week a lawsuit with private investors who say the banks manipulated foreign-exchange rates, the Wall Street Journal said.
* ROYAL DUTCH SHELL - Indonesia’s state-owned Pertamina, Royal Dutch Shell, and Malaysia’s Petronas were among the companies awarded Indonesian oil and gas blocks in its latest offering of exploration concessions, government officials said on Wednesday.
* ASTRAZENECA - Pharmaceutical AstraZeneca said on Wednesday its experimental lung drug PT003 for chronic lung disease had proved successful in two final-stage Phase III trials, boosting hopes for the company’s respiratory pipeline.
* BRITISH LAND - British Land is to invest 50 million pounds ($73.78 million) in a refurbishment at Meadowhall.
* SSE - Utilities regulator Ofgem has secured 100,000 pounds from SSE after SSE’s pricing signals resulted in it receiving excessive constraint payments.
* SMITHS GROUP - British engineer Smiths Group Plc reported a 5 percent fall in first-half operating profit and said it appointed Rob White as interim chief financial officer effective April 25.
* HOCHSCHILD MINING - Silver-focused miner Hochschild Mining said its full-year adjusted core profit fell 32.5 percent as silver and gold prices declined.
* IMAGINATION TECHNOLOGIES - Imagination Technologies, the company that provides graphics technology to Apple, said licensing activity had been a “little muted” since November, although its pipeline remained good and it saw its outcome in licensing at least the same as last year.
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
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