UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Dec. 23



Dec 23 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE index is seen opening higher on Thursday, with futures FFIc1 up 0.43%.

* ASTRAZENECA: AstraZeneca AZN.L said its COVID-19 vaccine was effective against the Omicron coronavirus variant following a third dose in a study, with neutralising levels similar to those against the Delta variant after a regular two-dose course.

* FLUTTER ENTERTAINMENT: Betfair and Poker Stars owner Flutter Entertainment FLTRF.L said it would buy Italian online gaming operator Sisal for 1.62 billion pounds ($2.16 billion), as it looks to expand its footprint in Europe.

* BALFOUR BEATTY: The U.S. Justice Department said it resolved probes into Balfour Beatty Communities, one of the U.S. military's largest private landlords, after it pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of major fraud and agreed to pay over $65 million in fines and restitution.

* CAR PLANTS: British car manufacturers had their slowest November in 37 years as the sector struggled to cope with the impact of the pandemic on global supply chains, industry data showed.

* UK BUSINESS: British businesses have reported their weakest growth since the country was under lockdown earlier this year and they expect a further slowdown in early 2022, the Confederation of British Industry said.

* GOLD: Gold prices edged up in thin year-end trading, as the safe-haven dollar weakened following encouraging studies on the Omicron COVID-19 variant and rising optimism about the global economic outlook.

* METAL: Copper edged higher, underpinned by a weak U.S. dollar, easing concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant and upbeat U.S. economic data.

* OIL: Oil prices edged up for a third consecutive session over positive developments around COVID-19, even as China imposed new travel curbs and Australia reinstated restrictions to combat surging cases.

* UK's FTSE 100 ended higher on Wednesday as gains in industrial and financial stocks helped counter concerns over the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on economic recovery and weaker-than-expected quarterly growth data.

* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:

TODAY'S UK PAPERS

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Reporting By Amna Karimi in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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