(Adds company news items and futures)
Feb 6 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE index is seen opening 42 points higher on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers with futures up 0.4% ahead of cash markets open.
* BEAZLEY: Beazley Plc BEZG.L on Thursday reported a leap in 2019 profit, but cautioned that some markets including property reinsurance remain underpriced, adding that the insurer will continue to walk away from business that do not meet its pricing needs. ASHMORE GROUP: Emerging markets-focused money manager Ashmore Group ASHM.L said on Thursday its assets under management rose 7% in the six months to the end of December, fuelled largely by taking in more client money. BP: BP BP.L is seeking buyers for its stake in a major Algerian gas plant deep in the Sahara desert after recent talks on a sale to Russian oil giant Rosneft ROSN.MM failed, three industry sources told Reuters. ROYAL MAIL: Royal Mail RMG.L said the outlook for its next year was "challenging" as addressed letter volumes were not recovering as expected, although recent trading was in line with forecasts, helped by a busy Christmas and a December national election. COMPASS: Britain's Compass Group CPG.L said on Thursday first-quarter revenue rose, helped by cost-cutting measures and continued strength in its North American operations. ECONOMY: The goal of British finance minister Sajid Javid of doubling the pace of economic growth has only a one-in-five chance of success, a think tank said, citing the huge task of snapping the country out of its chronic run of poor productivity. CONSTRUCTION: The number of new homes registered for construction in Britain last year inched up to the highest since 2007, boosted by London's recovery from the previous year's Brexit-induced drop, industry figures showed. TRADE DEAL: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hopes a free trade deal with Australia will be one of the first such pacts to be secured, now that Britain has left the European Union, he said. SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L , which plans billions of dollars in spending on shale drilling projects, boosted output in the top U.S. shale field to 250,000 barrels per day in December, the company's Permian Basin head said on Wednesday. EX-DIVS: Sage Group SGE.L will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday. According to Reuters calculations at current market prices, the effect of the resulting adjustment to prices by market-makers would have a very marginal impact on the index. OIL: Oil futures rose for a second day on Thursday amid investor optimism over unconfirmed reports of possible advances in combating the coronavirus outbreak in China as a sign fuel demand may rebound in the world's biggest oil importer. GOLD: Gold prices fell as strong U.S. economic data boosted risk appetite and the dollar, while investors kept a cautious eye on the virus outbreak as the death toll jumped past 500. UK shares got a shot in the arm on Wednesday after media reports that scientists had developed a drug against the China-linked coronavirus, though Imperial Brands (LON: IMB ) and GlaxoSmithKline missed out after downbeat financial updates. UK PAPERS
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