(Adds company news items, futures)
July 19 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening 32 points higher at 7,525 on Friday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up 0.44% ahead of the cash market open. * ASTON MARTIN: The biggest investor in Aston Martin offered on Friday to buy another 3% stake in the luxury carmaker, whose shares have slumped since listing last year. * BARRICK GOLD: The world’s second-biggest gold miner Barrick Gold Corp has agreed a deal to buy Tanzania-focussed Acacia Mining that values the firm at 951 million pounds, Acacia said on Friday. * SSP: British travel-food company SSP Group Plc reported higher quarterly revenue on Friday but said some of its airports in North America were hit by the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and the transfer of passengers away from its terminals. * CLOSE BROTHERS: British merchant bank Close Brothers Group Plc on Friday reported a 5.1% rise in loan book this year on the back of strong lending in its banking division, but flagged low trading volumes at its market maker unit.
* ULTRA ELECTRONICS: ERAPSCO, a joint venture between Sparton Corp and a subsidiary of Ultra Electronics, was awarded a $1.041 billion U.S. defense contract on Thursday to produce air-launched, expendable sonobuoys used in anti-submarine warfare, the Pentagon said.
* OIL: Oil prices climbed around 2% on Friday after the U.S. Navy destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for global crude flows, again raising tensions in the Middle East.
* GOLD: Gold prices on Friday surpassed the key $1,450 level for the first time since May 2013, after comments from a top Federal Reserve official bolstered expectations of an interest rate cut, while fresh tensions in the Middle East further supported bullion.
* The UK blue chip index closed 0.5% lower on Thursday as initial batches of corporate earnings jangled nerves over global growth, while losses for London’s mid-cap index were capped by a buyout of pub operator Ei Group.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:
TODAY’S UK PAPERS
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> Other business headlines (Reporting by Samantha Machado And Adil Bhat in Bengaluru)
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