(Adds company news items, updates futures and some items)
March 1 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE index is seen opening 42points lower at 7,190 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, withfutures FFIc1 down 0.28 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* CARPETRIGHT: Britain' biggest floor coverings retailer Carpetright CPRC.L said on Thursday it was in talks with banks to see how to shore up itsbalance sheet, forecasting a small pretax loss in the full year - its thirdwarning in four months. LAIRD: Private equity firm Advent International has agreed to buy Britishelectronics and technology business Laird LRD.L , the firms said on Thursday,valuing its issued equity at around 1 billion pounds ($1.38 billion). MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS: Britain's Merlin Entertainments MERL.L , operatorof tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds waxworks, met reduced guidancewith a 9.5 percent rise in 2017 core earnings and said it was confident aboutits future prospects. WPP: WPP WPP.L , the world's biggest advertising group, said it wouldsimplify its structure after it reported a 0.9 percent drop in 2017 net sales,its worst performance since the financial crisis, and forecast no growth for2018. HASTINGS: British insurer Hastings Group Holdings Plc HSTG.L reported a39 percent jump in full-year adjusted operating profit, as it provided insuranceto more customers and increased its market share. EVRAZ: Evraz EVRE.L , Russia's second-biggest steel producer, said onThursday its 2017 core earnings rose 70 percent year-on-year to $2.6 billion dueto higher global prices, beating analysts' estimates. MAIL.RU GROUP: Russia's Mail.ru Group MAILRq.L said on Thursday its netprofit FOR 2017 Was up 22.6 percent to 14.2 billion roubles ($252 million). COBHAM: British aerospace and defence electronics group Cobham COB.L said it posted annual profit slightly ahead of expectations, and was sticking toits 2018 outlook, but cautioned that risks and challenges remained. SCHRODERS: British asset manager Schroders SDR.L posted a 23 percentrise in pretax profit after market gains, acquisitions and inflows of freshclient money helped boost total funds to 447 billion pounds ($615.5 billion). BOVIS: British builder Bovis BVS.L , which is undergoing a turnaroundplan after seeing off two takeover bids last year following a profit warning,said its volumes would grow in 2018 as it posted a slump in profits in line withexpectations. ROBERT WALTERS: British recruiting company Robert Walters RWA.L reportedan about 44 percent jump in full-year pretax profit, as overseas growth and itsoutsourcing business protected the firm against Brexit uncertainty, which haschallenged the UK's recruiting market. PETROFAC: Petrofac Ltd PFC.L reported better-than-expected core earningsas an uptick in oil prices boosted the oilfield service company's orders. INTERNATIONAL PERSONAL FINANCE: International Personal Finance Plc IPF.L said it had introduced more competitive rates in its home credit products inEurope through longer-term lending, as it deals with regulatory oversight of itsconsumer credit markets. HOWDEN JOINERY: British kitchen supplier Howden Joinery HWDN.L onThursday posted a 7.4 percent rise in full-year revenue as sales held up despiteconcerns about thinning consumer confidence in the UK. COMCAST/SKY: U.S. cable operator Comcast CMCSA.O has informally notifiedthe European Commission of its intention to bid for Britain's pay-TV group Sky SKYB.L , triggering the regulatory process for the $31 billion deal. TESCO/BOOKER: Tesco's TSCO.L 4 billion pound ($5.5 billion) takeover ofBooker BOK.L was overwhelmingly backed by shareholders of both companies onWednesday, clearing the final hurdles to the creation of a new powerhouse inBritain's 200 billion pounds-a-year food market. MELROSE/GKN: Investor adviser PIRC has told shareholders in MelroseIndustries MRON.L to oppose its 7 billion pound ($10 billion) bid forengineering group GKN GKN.L , putting it at odds with two other proxy votingfirms. BRITISH HOUSE PRICES: British house prices fell unexpectedly for the firsttime in six months during February, reflecting a subdued consumer economy,mortgage lender Nationwide said on Thursday. BREXIT/BRITISH CARMAKERS: Britain must maintain free trade and EuropeanUnion regulatory alignment for the automotive industry as Brexit offers noupside for the sector, a committee of lawmakers said. UK AUTOS: Just over 60 percent of recent or prospective car buyers havehad their decision-making influenced by Britain's exit from the European Union,including some delaying a purchase, according to a survey by Auto Trader AUTOA.L . EX-DIVS: Barclays BARC.L , Berkeley Group BKGH.L , easyJet EZJ.L , RioTinto RIO.L and RSA Insurance Group RSA.L will trade without entitlement totheir latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 8.48 points off the FTSE 100according to Reuters calculations. The UK blue chip index closed down 0.7 percent at 7,231.91 points onWednesday, dragged down by mining companies after weak factory data from China,while comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reignitedexpectations of more interest rate hikes in the United States. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
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