UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 21

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UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 21
Credit: © Reuters.

(Adds company news items, futures)

March 21 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 futures FFIc1 were flat ahead of the cash market open on Tuesday.

* BELLWAY: British housebuilder Bellway BWY.L said on Tuesday it would raise its dividend after posting a nearly 10 percent rise in half-year pre-tax profits, although it warned that labour shortages were pushing up costs in the sector. ENQUEST: North Sea-focused oil producer EnQuest ENQ.L reported a small rise in annual core earnings on Tuesday, despite weak oil prices, as it brought down costs and raised production. SHELL: Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L said on Tuesday it will drill 161 new gas wells at its Queensland operations by the end of 2018, helping to underpin its promise to continue supplying 10 percent of the domestic gas market to help prevent a shortage. BHP BILLITON: The union for striking workers at BHP Billiton's BLT.L Escondida in Chile, the world's largest copper mine, said after meeting with the company on Monday that it was open to further conversations that could lead to reopening negotiations. SHELL: A hydrocracking unit remained shut on Monday at Royal Dutch Shell Plc's RDSa.L joint-venture 285,500 barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Deer Park, Texas, said a source familiar with plant operations. IMPERIAL BRANDS: Imperial Brands IMB.L and Japan Tobacco International are considering taking a stake in Palmer & Harvey, Sky News reported on Monday. BRITAIN BANKS: HSBC Holdings Plc HSBA.L , Royal Bank of Scotland Plc RBS.L , Lloyds Banking Group Plc LLOY.L , Barclays Plc BARC.L and Coutts are among 17 banks that are facing questions over money-laundering operations run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the KGB, The Guardian reported on Monday. BRITISH AIRWAYS: British Airways is set to give out 400 pounds to staff members plus a free return flight to make up for lower bonus payments, Bloomberg reported on Monday, as it bids to keep staff happy while an industrial dispute rumbles on. BREXIT: Sterling fell from a three-week high against the dollar on Monday, on news Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Britain's divorce proceedings with the European Union on March 29, launching two years of negotiations. OIL: Oil prices rose on Tuesday on expectations that an OPEC-led production cut to prop up the market could be extended, while strong demand would also work to slowly erode a global fuel supply overhang. The UK blue chip FTSE 100 .FTSE index closed 0.1 percent higher at 7,429.81 points on Monday, as falling energy stocks and banks were outweighed by rising consumer staples stocks. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=livemarkets


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