UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Friday Jan. 18

LONDON Fri Jan 18, 2013 2:08am EST

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LONDON Jan 18 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening broadly flat on Friday, somewhere between 3 points lower and 3 points higher, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on

* The UK blue chip index finished up 28.38 points, or 0.5 percent, on Thursday at 6,132.36, its highest close since May 2008. After the index failed to break through the support level at 6,100 in early falls, buyers entered the market on the dip.

* Few investors are expected to roll over their downside protection at Friday's options expiry, with 60 percent more puts than calls due to expire on the FTSE 100. They may be less willing to spend money on downside insurance on an index that has gained nearly 4 percent this year and has left 98.2 percent of put options worthless.

* Data showed that Chinese growth picked up in the last quarter of 2012, with the economy growing faster than expected, although the growth for the total year was the weakest since 1999.

* UK Prime Minister David Cameron postponed a planned speech about the European Union, in which he was going to say that Britain will drift out of the European project unless the EU tackles the euro zone debt crisis, faltering competitiveness and declining public support.

* RIO TINTO - the heavyweight miner gains 2.7 percent in Australian trade, continuing a resurgence after falling as much as 5 percent at the British open on Thursday after their CEO resigned and the company received a $14 billion dollar charge, with new CEO Sam Walsh seen as a safe pair of hands.

* UK CORPORATE DIARY: EVRAZ reports fourth quarter output, SPECTRIS gives trading update for the year.

TODAY'S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Toni Vorobyova)

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