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UK Stocks - Factors to watch on Thursday

Source: Reuters - Thu 17th Sep 2009

Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening 28-35 points, or 0.7 percent higher on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, tracking strong gains overnight on Wall Street and in Asia as hopes mount that the global recession could be coming to an end.

The UK blue chip index closed 82.0 points, or 1.6 percent higher on Wednesday at 5,124.13, its highest close since late September last year, having touched a 12-month peak of 5,131.26 during the session.

The FTSE has rallied 21 percent this quarter and is on track to post its best percentage quarterly gains since the index was launched in 1984. But it is still down around 5 percent from a year ago, just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

U.S. stocks rose for a third day on Wednesday, hitting fresh 2009 highs in abroad-based rally following data that suggested a stronger-than-anticipated global recovery, while Asian stocks hit their highest level in 13 months on Thursday. August UK retail sales numbers will be the main domestic macro focus on Thursday, with the consensus forecast for a monthly increase of 0.2 percent, after a 0.4 percent rise in July, giving an annualised increase of 2.8 percent, down from 3.3 percent in the previous month.

The September CBI industrial trends-orders survey will also be released on Wednesday.

 Across the Atlantic, August housing starts and building permits will be of interest on Wednesday together with the September Philly Fed index and the latest weekly initial jobless claims, all hopefully adding to the improving economic picture.

* Wall St rises for 3rd day on economic optimism

* Asia stocks hit 13-mth high on up beat U.S. data

* Nikkei pares gains as banks weigh, but data supports

* Dollar subdued as growth-linked currencies advance

* Gold hovers around $1,010 after dollar fall

* Bonds dip as strong economic data weigh

UK stocks to watch on Thursday are:


The DIY retailer reports first-half results.


The engineering and construction group is readying a rights issue for asmuch as 350 million pounds ($575.8 million) to fund an acquisition, the Daily Telegraph reported.


The airline is interested in UK rival bmi and has spoken with bmi's German owner Lufthansa, the UK flag carrier's chief executive told the Evening Standard.

Also, in a message to BA's 14,000 cabin crew, union leaders said they should "hold firm" against the airline's attempts to cut their pay and change their contracts, the Times said.


Warren Buffet, a leading shareholder in Kraft, has warned the food group not to overpay for Cadbury, the Times said.


The oil major has sold its Indian wind farm business to Green Infra Limitedfor an estimated 57.6 million pounds, the Financial Times said.


The fashion brand will next month launch its own social networking site in amove designed to deepen its relationship with customers and attract new ones,the Financial Times said.


The fashion retailer posts first-half results.


The investment banking group issues a trading update.


The publishing group reports full-year results.


The construction firm reports full-year results.


The media and services firm reports full-year results.


The property firm issues a trading update.


The online payment firm posts first-half results.


The gold producer holds its annual general meeting.


The stem cell specialist holds its annual general meeting.


The inhaled drug specialist holds its annual general meeting.

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