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UK Stocks - Factors to watch on Feb 24

Source: Reuters - Wed 24th Feb 2010

Britain's FTSE 100 index was seen opening unchanged to 4 points lower, or down as much as 0.1 percent, on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, stabilising after the price of crude oil and gold steadied.

The blue-chip index closed 36.98 points lower on Tuesday at 5,315.09, pressured by weaker miners and energy issues as commodity prices fell with a firmer dollar after dull U.S. data.

U.S. blue chips ended 1.0 percent lower on Tuesday after U.S.consumer confidence fell in February to its lowest level in 10 months, and Asian stock markets fell back in response on Wednesday.

Investors were likely to remain cautious ahead of a congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to be delivered to the House of Representatives and the Senate on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

After the surprise increase last week in the discount rate the Fed charges banks for emergency loans, the market will focus on how Bernanke explains the move.

Nervousness in the market could also continue with China implementing fresh measures to clamp down on excessive bank lending.

China's banking regulator has told commercial lenders to restrict new loansto local governments' financing arms to ward off potential risks of default, state media reported, the latest step by Beijing to rein in galloping credit expansion. With no domestic economic data due on Wednesday, January U.S. new home sales numbers, due at 1500 GMT, will be the main macro focus, with a figure of 0.36 million expected, up from 0.342 million in December.

Ex-dividend factors will knock 4.23 points off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday, with Barclays, Land Securities, Randgold Resources, Reckitt Benckiser, and Rio Tinto all losing their dividend attractions.

* GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares fall on U.S. consumer fears

* US STOCKS-Wall Street drops along with consumer confidence

* Tokyo's Nikkei share average closes down 1.48 pct

* FOREX-Yen, dollar hold onto gains on rush from risk

* TREASURIES-Dip in Asia, 2-yr/10-yr spread off record high

* Oil climbs above $79 on unexpected U.S. stock draw

* PRECIOUS-Gold bounces on euro; weak commodities weigh

* METALS-Shanghai copper lower on econ recovery worries

British stocks to watch on Wednesday are:


The global bank has shelved plans to award its chief executive a pay rise of more than a third, after shareholders rejected the proposals amid concerns of arising backlash over banker pay, the Financial Times said.


The bank has announced that it is to terminate a legally binding agreement with the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland, one of the bank's charitable foundations, after it refused to accept a new funding deal, The Guardian said.


The insurer has appointed JPMorgan Chase & Co to look at a possible sale of its U.S. life insurance business, among other options, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is to hold a meeting in July about the possible side effects of the diabetes drug Avandia, which is produced by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, The Independent said.


The drinks has accused rival Bacardi Ltd of trying to drive its Captain Morgan rum production out of the United States in order to protect its own substantial rum subsidies from the Puerto Rican government.


The airline is due to return to the courts later on Wednesday to fight a union's attempt to change its policy on holiday pay for pilots, just days after BA cabin crew voted for possible strike action.


Interactive Data Corporation's private equity bidders have begun to join forces ahead of a second round of an auction for the financial data group, whichis majority-owned by Pearson, The Financial Times said.


The energy group has agreed terms for a 10-year lease with Canary Wharf on 20,000 sq ft of Docklands offices at 40 Bank Street, and will next year move around 2,000 employees from the Shell Centre at Waterloo to the Docklands area, The Times said.


The hedge fund firm is to organise an auction to allow aggrieved investorsto sell-off stakes in its Special Situations fund, the Financial Times reported.


The wealth manager posts full-year results.

Also, JP Morgan starts coverage with an "overweight" rating.


The investment banking group reports full-year results.


The building materials retailer delivers full-year results.


The IT services group reports full-year results.


The housebuilder posts first-half results.


The construction contractor reports first-half results.


The price comparison website posts full-year results.


The construction firm delivers first-half results.


The property group reports full-year results.


The public relations firm posts full-year results.


The property firm delivers full-year results.


The vehicle management information group posts full-year results.


The tour operator holds its annual general meeting.

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