UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Dec. 18
LONDON Dec 18 (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 futures contract edged up by 0.3 percent by 0730 GMT on Wednesday.
The FTSE has lost ground over the last week as strong U.S. economic data has fuelled speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve may trim a bond-buying programme, aimed at boosting the economy, which has curbed returns on debt and driven money into stocks since September 2012.
The central bank's Federal Open Market Committee is due to announce its decision at 1900 GMT, with most economists not expecting the Fed to start winding down its purchases of $85 billion a month in bonds until March.
* The UK blue chip index closed down by 0.6 percent, or 36.01 points, at 6,486.19 points on Tuesday.
* United Utilities goes ex-dividend on Wednesday, which will take 0.32 points off the FTSE 100.
* BP : Britain's BP Plc said on Wednesday it had made a significant oil discovery at its Gila prospect in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
BP also filed a fraud lawsuit in U.S. court on Tuesday to halt some of the $2.3 billion it set aside to compensate commercial fishermen for losses claimed after the British oil company's 2010 offshore oil spill, the biggest in U.S. history.
* TULLOW : British oil explorer Tullow said on Wednesday results from its Paon-2A well offshore Ivory Coast struck water, suggesting the total hydrocarbon column of the field is only 700 metres.
* DARTY : The electrical goods retailer posted lower first-half revenues and announced the sale of its Turkish business.
* EXILLON : The oil producer said it was no longer in an offer period and no longer in talks with any parties over a possible bid for the company.
* Seneal International Agency Ltd, controlled by Russian billionaire Alexei Khotin, also said it does not plan to raise its stake in Exillon Energy Plc, two weeks after saying that another company he controls may bid for the oil producer.
* FERREXPO : Ukraine-focused iron ore miner Ferrexpo said on Wednesday its top two investors - chief executive Kostyantin Zhevago and BXR Group - would trim their stakes in order to meet a freefloat target of 25 percent.
* BWIN.PARTY : Online gambling company Bwin.Party said on Wednesday the outlook for next year was positive thanks to betting on the soccer World Cup and growth prospects in the United States.
* LLOYDS : The government's first sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group was managed effectively and provided value for money, Britain's public spending watchdog said on Wednesday.
* SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: Scottish taxpayers could face an annual bill of 1.6 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) to pay for three policy commitments of the Scottish government if the country votes to leave Britain, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.
* EURO ZONE BANKS: Euro zone finance ministers made progress on Wednesday on some details of a plan to close banks, paving the way for completion of a euro zone 'banking union' that is to restore confidence in the financial sector and boost growth.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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