March 9 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE index is seen opening down 21 points at 7,314 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers.
* BT GROUP-RIO TINTO: Rio Tinto RIO.L Chairman Jan du Plessis is set to step down and take up the chairmanship of BT Group Plc BT.L , with the announcement to be made by Britain's top mobile and broadband operator on Thursday, the Financial Times reported. BHP Billiton: BHP Billiton BLT.L , BHP.AX may try to restart production at the world's No.1 copper mine Escondida in Chile using temporary workers once the strike surpasses 30 days, the company told a local radio station on Wednesday. BRITAIN-BUDGET: Britain's 2017 budget gave some meagre support on Wednesday to domestic stock and currency markets suffering from nerves over its plans to leave the European Union and the fallout for increasingly hard-pressed consumers. BREXIT: Britain's economy is likely to feel the pain of Brexit more sharply in the coming years despite holding up well so far, according to finance minister Philip Hammond's latest plan to steer the economy through its split from the European Union. BRITAIN-BONDS: Gilt yields hit a two-week high after Britain said it planned to sell more government bonds than the market had expected, despite finance minister Philip Hammond largely sticking to existing fiscal plans in Wednesday's annual Budget. OIL: Oil prices climbed on Thursday after sharp losses the session before, buoyed by strong compliance with touted international production cuts, although a surge in U.S. crude inventories continued to drag. GOLD: Gold prices inched down to the lowest level in five weeks on Thursday, pressured by an uptick in the dollar ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday. EX-DIVS: BHP Billiton BLT.L , CRH CRH.L , Hargreaves Lansdown HRGV.L , Land Securities Group LAND.L , Persimmon PSN.L and Shire SHP.L will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 5.36 points off the FTSE 100, according to Reuters calculations. The blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE closed 0.06 percent lower on Wednesday, as Britain's budget statement delivered few surprises, although builders got a small boost from reassuring comments on infrastructure spending. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets
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