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UK Stocks -- Factors to watch on Weds Feb 16
LONDON Feb 16 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE is seen opening 4-9 points higher on Wednesday, with investors waiting for the closely watched Bank of England Inflation Report for more clues on the outlook for monetary policy.
The blue chip index is seen gaining as much as 0.15 percent after it fell 0.4 percent, or 23.01 points to close at 6,037.08 on Tuesday.
The index is up 3 percent in February after gaining 9 percent last year and is 74 percent higher than its trough set in March 2009.
At 1030 GMT the Bank of England publishes quarterly growth and inflation forecasts and is likely to smooth the way for higher interest rates to tackle inflation that is currently running at double its 2 percent target.
The BoE looks certain to revise up its near-term inflation projections. The key chart for markets, however, will be the BoE's two-year inflation forecast. [ID:nLDE71E1RW]
Before that, at 0930 GMT, investors will watch unemployment data.
Claimant count unemployment is forecast to have fallen for a fourth consecutive month in January but by a modest 3,000, well short of the drops of 30,000 or so that were common in the first half of 2010.
Average earnings growth is likely to have remained subdued as the threat of job losses, particularly in the public sector, dents workers' wage bargaining power.
Highlighting the difficulties facing the domestic economy, British consumer confidence fell sharply in January to near its weakest level since early 2009, after a rise in sales tax dented shoppers' willingness to spend, a survey by building society Nationwide showed on Wednesday.
Nationwide's consumer confidence index declined to a seasonally adjusted 47 in January from 54 in December and just above November's 20-month low of 46. [ID:nSLAFDE7PN]
Ex-dividend factors will clip 0.13 points off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday, with cruises operator Carnival (CCL.L) losing its payout attractions.
* US STOCKS-Wall St falls in light volume, pullback mulled [ID:nN15225217]
* TREASURIES-Bonds slip in Asia [ID:nTOE71F03L]
* Sterling storms ahead; dollar finally up on yen [ID:nTOE71F01H]
* METALS-Copper below $10,000; risk-averse [ID:nL3E7DG077]
* Oil rebounds on surprise fall in US crude stocks [ID:nL3E7DG07P]
* PRECIOUS-Gold steady after two days' gain [ID:nL3E7DG02P]
* GLOBAL MARKETS-Sterling rises, Nikkei at 9-mth high [ID:nL3E7DG010]
* Nikkei hits 9-mth high on weaker yen, foreign buying [ID:nTOE71F02U]
UK stocks to watch on Wednesday are:
BHP BILLITON (BLT.L)
The world's biggest miner plans to pour $80 billion into expansion over the next five years and return cash to investors rather than chase ambitious takeovers, after nearly doubling its first-half profit to a record. [ID:nL3E7DF02F]
STANDARD CHARTERED (STAN.L)
The bank has closed down its global loans trading unit to focus on lending to clients, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday. [nTOE71F03B]
RIO TINTO (RIO.L)
The global miner has raised its relevant interest in $3.9 billion takeover Australian target Riversdale Mining RIV.AX to 15.97 percent from 14.97 percent, it said on Wednesday. [ID:nSDYLCE72Y]
HERITAGE OIL (HOIL.L)
The Daily Mail's market report notes a late rally by Heritage Oil's shares on Tuesday was sparked by vague rumours of a 450 pence a share offer from Austria's OMV.
Cairn's chief executive Bill Gammell has flown to Delhi to try to salvage a $9.6 billion deal to sell its stake in India's largest onshore oilfield, the Times newspaper said.
LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE (LSE.L)
Trading failed to stop as scheduled on the British bourse on Tuesday -- one day after LSE completed a major system upgrade -- causing confusion among its clients, who blamed a technical problem. [ID:nLDE71E2FT]
AFRICAN BARRICK GOLD (ABGL.L)
The miner releases full-year results.
ATKINS WS (ATKW.L)
The engineering group releases a trading update.
MORGAN CRUCIBLE MGCR.L
The engineer releases its full-year results.
MILLENNIUM & COPTHORNE HOTELS (MLC.L)
The hotel group releases its full-year results.
The chocolate maker releases its first half results.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times [PRESS/FT]
> Other business headlines [PRESS/GB]
(Reporting by Simon Falush)
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