(Adds futures, news items)
* AVIVA: Aviva AV.L has sold its Polish operations to Germany's Allianz ALVG.DE for 2.5 billion euros in cash, completing a programme to sell European and Asian assets begun last year, the British insurer said. KAZ MINERALS: Kaz Minerals KAZ.L has received a final bid worth 4.02 billion pounds from Chairman-led Nova Resources after minority shareholders rejected two proposals for being too low. SMITHS GROUP: Smiths Group SMIN.L forecast improving trends for the second half of the fiscal year after the British engineering firm reported a better-than-expected profit. BURBERRY: BRBY.L has lost a Chinese brand ambassador and its hallmark tartan design was scrubbed from a popular video game, becoming the first luxury brand assailed by the Chinese backlash to Western accusations of abuses in Xinjiang. ASTRAZENECA: Oxford University said on Thursday it was launching a study to investigate immune responses of a nasal administration of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with AstraZeneca AZN.L . ECONOMY: British retail sales rose by 2.1% in February from January, helped in part by consumers buying outdoor furniture ahead of the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions which will allow people to meet in gardens. AUTOS: British car production fell to its lowest February level since 2010 after an annual 14% drop as lockdown measures, global supply chain problems and new customs processes hit the industry, a trade body said. GOLD: Gold prices slipped with bullion pressured by a rallying dollar following positive U.S. economic data and as vaccine roll-outs gathered steam. OIL: Oil prices reversed a sharp sell-off a day earlier to rise 1%. The UK blue-chip index .FTSE closed 0.6% lower on Thursday on a slide in energy and mining stocks, while concerns over renewed coronavirus lockdowns in Europe dented optimism for a swift economic recovery. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: LIVE/
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