LONDON Oct 4 (Reuters) - * Britain's FTSE 100 is set to open 12 to 17 points higher, or as much as 0.3 percent, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE index closed up 0.3 percent, or 16.36 points higher, at 5,825.81 points on Wednesday driven by gains in "defensive" stocks seen as the most resilient to an economic downturn.
* The Bank of England interest rate decision is due out at 1100 GMT with rates widely expected to remain at the record low of 0.5 percent. The main focus will be on the bank's quantitative easing measure and whether it will look expand the programme in the wake or recent downbeat economic data, although current forecasts are for it to remain unchanged.
* In the United States, jobless claims due at 1230 GMT will be the final clue to the health of the economy ahead of non far payrolls data on Friday.
Following the preliminary report of a massive 13.2 percent plunge in August durable goods orders, factory orders, due out at 1400 GMT, are overall seen down about 5.8 percent. A rise of 1.0 percent in the value of nondurables orders (assisted by rising fuel prices) can only modestly blunt the fall, which would be the steepest since January 2009.
* METALS: Copper drifted lower on Thursday on worries over a worsening outlook for Europe's economy and slowing growth in China, although signals that recovery could be taking hold in the United States kept losses in check.
EURO ZONE DEBT CRISIS: Greece's hopes of striking a deal with its lenders before euro zone finance ministers meet next week dimmed on Wednesday, when officials admitted the two sides disagree on how much the economy will contract in 2013 - a key figure in their calculations.
* BHP BILITON : The top global miner is among the companies talking to Petrobras about buying a stake in the Brazilian state-led oil company's Gulf of Mexico oil fields, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
* HALFORDS : The car parts and cycles retailer picked former Pets at Home boss Matt Davies as its new chief executive, to drive a sales recovery.
* UK CORPORATE DIARY: CARILLION issues a third-quarter trading update. EASYJET releases traffic figures. HALFORDS GROUP has a trading update. MATCHTECH GROUP unveils full-year results. ROBERT WALTERS reveals a trading update. TED BAKER posts first-half results. VICTREX has a trading update. TODAY'S UK PAPERS > Financial Times > Other business headlines
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(Written by David Brett)
Keywords: MARKETS BRITAIN FACTORS