UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Thursday Oct. 31
LONDON Oct 31 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening lower on Thursday, with futures down 0.3 percent by 0732 GMT before the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up 2.97 points, flat in percentage terms, at 6,777.70 points on Wednesday, eking out its fifth successive day of gains and hitting its highest levels since May.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve, as was widely expected, kept its $85 billion a month stimulus plan intact, and made little change to the accompanying statement from the one in September, but traders reckoned that it was less dovish than it might have been in light of recent downbeat economic data.
* The FTSE 100 has risen 4.9 percent so far this month, helped by expectations of continued U.S. monetary stimulus alongside some robust corporate earnings releases.
* The index is, however, looking ripe for a pull-back, with its 14-day relative strength index, a momentum indicator, currently at 72.6, with a reading of 70 and above considered to be 'overbought'.
* FRENCH CONNECTION : The fashion retailer rose on Wednesday as rumours went round that an industry player is stalking the company with a view to launching a 57.54 million pounds ($92.5 million), or 60 pence a share, cash offer, the Daily Mail market report said.
* PETROPAVLOVSK : The Russian gold miner rose on Wednesday on rumours that shareholder Peter Hambro may make a 150 pence per share offer to take it private, according to the Daily Express market report.
* ANTOFAGASTA : The miner said it is on track to hit output, cost targets for 2013.
* ASTRAZENECA : Sales and profits continued to slide at the drugmaker in the third quarter, underscoring the turnaround challenge facing CEO Pascal Soriot, who has been in the job for just over a year.
Soriot named Marc Dunoyer as the group's new chief financial officer on Thursday, replacing Simon Lowth, whose departure had already been announced.
* BG GROUP : The international gas and oil producer posted a 4 percent fall in third quarter earnings primarily driven by its decision to cut production in the U.S. where gas prices have been low.
BG's earnings of $1.1 billion in the three months to the end of September were above analyst expectations of $944 million.
* BT GROUP : More than 2 million homes have signed up to take BT's new sports service, the group said, as it reported strong trading for the first set of results under new chief executive Gavin Patterson.
* CRODA INTERNATIONAL : The company said that third-quarter underlying sales rose 0.8 percent.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
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