(Adds futures, news items)
April 8 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE index is seen opening 23 points higher at 6,909 points on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures .FFIc1 up 0.3% ahead of the cash market open.
* ASOS: ASOS ASOS.L reported a 275% increase in first-half profit, driven by the popularity of e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic. LOOKERS PLC: Lookers Plc LOOK.L expects 2021 underlying profit before tax to be materially ahead of analyst consensus, driven by better-than-expected first-quarter performance where it utilised digital channels to expand sales. NATIONAL GRID: Britain's energy regulator said the country's National Grid (LON: NG ) Electricity System Operator had agreed to pay 1.5 million pounds ($2.1 million) to the watchdog for a breach of electricity demand forecasts in 2017. DUNELM GROUP: Dunelm Group DNLM.L forecast annual profit ahead of analysts' expectations, as it gears up to reopen its stores next week following an easing in coronavirus-led restrictions in England. OSB GROUP: OSB Group OSBO.L reported a 9% drop in annual earnings, hit by an impairment provision of 20 million pounds ($27.52 million) related to a potential third-party fraud, although the specialist mortgage lender reinstated a final dividend. ASTRAZENECA: European Union health ministers failed on Wednesday to agree a common guidance on the use of the AstraZeneca AZN.L COVID-19 vaccine, despite calls for coordination across member states to combat public hesitancy over taking the shot. ASTRAZENECA: Mexican and Brazilian health regulators said on Wednesday they would not limit the use of AstraZeneca's AZN.L COVID-19 shot after Britain's vaccine advisory committee recommended not using it for people under 30, citing rare blood clot risks. ASTRAZENECA: Spain will only give AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine to people over 60 years old after European and British regulators found a potential link between the shot and rare brain blood clots. Oil prices fell after official figures showed a big increase in U.S. gasoline stocks, causing concerns about demand for crude weakening in the world's biggest consumer of the resource at a time when supplies around the world are rising. HIRING: British companies sharply stepped up hiring and offered higher pay to new staff last month as they grew more confident about economic recovery and prepared for COVID-19 restrictions to ease, a recruiters body said on Thursday. NATIONAL GRID: Britain should have enough electricity to meet demand over the summer months, the country's National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said on Thursday, even though peak demand could be slightly higher than last year. GOLD: Gold prices slipped as investors turned to riskier assets after the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes indicated continued policy support and cemented hopes of a quick economic turnaround. The UK blue-chip index .FTSE ended higher on Wednesday, led by gains in commodity stocks and a weaker pound lifted exporters. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on: LIVE/
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