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UK Stocks - Factors to watch on Jan 22

Source: Reuters - Fri 22th Jan 2010

Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 20-34 points, or as much as 0.6 percent weaker on Friday, according to financial bookmakers, extending Thursday's sharp falls after overnight drops on Wall Street and in Asia with banks likely to lead the fallers again.

The UK blue chip index closed 85.70 points, or 1.6 percent lower on Thursday at 5,335.10, its lowest close since Dec 22, pressured by a sharp retreat from miners on sinking metal prices and weakness in banks on fears about U.S. curbs.

U.S. stocks suffered their worst one-day percentage drop since October on Thursday, and Asian markets followed through on Friday, after U.S. President Barack Obama proposed tough restrictions on banks that would squeeze profits.

Obama said banks should no longer be allowed to own, sponsor or invest in hedge funds for proprietary profit. On the macro front on Friday, December UK retail sales numbers will be released at 0930 GMT, with the consensus forecast for a 1.1 percent increase onthe month, after a 0.3 percent decline in November, giving a 3.0 percent annualised rise, down from a 3.1 percent increase in November.

No important U.S. economic data are due on Friday, but another batch of fourth-quarter earnings will be key for investors, with General Electric and McDonalds the main features.

* GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks weak on Obama plan,commods fall

* US STOCKS-Market sinks as Obama takes aim at banks

* Nikkei hits 4-week low as yen, Shin-Etsu outlook drag

* FOREX-Yen hits 9-mth high vs euro, 5-wk peak on US$

* TREASURIES-Edge up in Asia as regional shares fall

* Oil at 1-mth low below $76 on U.S. data, bank curbs talk

* PRECIOUS-Gold remains under pressure after Obama proposal

* METALS-Shanghai copper dips on Obama plan, tightening fear

UK stocks to watch on Friday are:

INVENSYS

The engineering group will issue a Q3 trading update.

STANDARD CHARTERED

Standard Chartered's private equity unit, Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group and three other bidders are vying to buy two Chinese retailers and other assets from investment firm Global Mart Ltd in a deal expected to fetch about 500 million yuan ($73 million), people familiar with the matter said.

VEDANTA RESOURCES

The Indian-focused metals group plans to set up a 5 million-tonne steel plant on India's east coast in a joint venture with Larsen & Toubro Ltd, a top Vedanta official said.

CADBURY

U.S. firm Hershey was on the verge of bowing out of the battle for Cadbury last night following the British confectionery firm's recommendation of Kraft's increased 11.5 billion pounds takeover offer earlier this week,The Times said.

KINGFISHER

Europe's top home improvements retailer, expects its British market to get worse this year but is confident of coping thanks to its own "do-it-yourself" business improvements and better demand elsewhere, Kingfisher's chief Executive Ian Cheshire told Reuters on Thursday.

ONLINE RETAIL

IMRG and consultants Capgemini said online retail sales rose 17 percent year-on-year in December to 5.46 billion pounds ($8.9 billion), ahead of the 2009 average growth rate of 14 percent, with the industry body saying internet shopping will continue to grow strongly in Britain this year despite concerns over the economic outlook.

SAVILLS

Cordea Savills, the funds arm of property services firm Savills, said on Friday it has launched the UK Income and Growth Fund to acquire prime assets in Britain's recovering commercial property market.

MITCHELLS & BUTLERS

The pubs operator has outlined its plans to double the size of its leading brands in a bid to stop majority shareholder Joe Lewis in his efforts to oust the board, the Daily Telegraph said.

CLOSE BROTHERS GROUP

The stockbroking firm issues a trading update.

ADVANCED POWER COMPONENTS

The electronic components distributor holds its annual general meeting.

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