(Adds company news items and futures)
Jan 3 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE index is seen opening 26 points lower at 6,708 on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with FTSE 100 futures .FFIc1 down 0.40 percent ahead of the cash market open.
* VECTURA GROUP: British drugmaker Vectura Group Plc VEC.L on Thursday predicted that its adjusted earnings in 2018 would top market expectations, helped in part by improving profit margins.
NEXT: British clothing retailer Next Plc NXT.L reported a rise in sales in the run-up to Christmas in line with its own expectations, confounding fears of poor festive trading.
ACACIA MINING: The new Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO is considering options for its stake in Acacia Mining PLC ACAA.L including possible sale, as Barrick works to end a nearly two-year-long tax dispute in Tanzania that has effectively shuttered operations there.
EX-DIVS: Auto Trader Group Plc AUTOA.L , British Land Company Plc BLND.L , Experian Plc EXPN.L will trade without entitlement to their latest dividend pay-out on Thursday, trimming 0.7 points off the FTSE 100 according to Reuters calculations.
GOLD: Gold prices inched up on Thursday as a dip in Asian equities and worries about a sharp global economic slowdown propelled demand for safer investments. OIL: Oil prices fell on Thursday amid volatile currency and stock markets, and as analysts warned of an economic slowdown for 2019 just as crude supply is rising globally. The UK blue chip index closed 0.1 percent higher at 6734.23 on Wednesday, helped by investor appetite for stocks deemed less risky and also by a comeback for oil majors despite weak data from China.
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