LONDON Dec 5 Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening
slightly lower on Thursday, with futures down 0.2 percent by 0730 GMT
before the cash market open.
* The UK blue chip index ended down 22.46 points, or 0.3 percent, at
6,509.97 points on Wednesday, its lowest close since Oct. 14. The index is down
2.1 percent this week, putting it on course for its biggest weekly drop since
* Investors were eyeing central bank rate decisions later in the day. While
the Bank of England and the European Central Bank are likely to hold off any
fresh policy action, the ECB's new staff forecasts will be in focus for signs of
prolonged price weakness that could lead it to act again next year.
* For the first time since taking office in 2010, finance minister George
Osborne is set to present a more upbeat message about Britain's finances and
economy in a budget update on Thursday.
* Uncertainty remained over when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start cutting
its bond-buying programme, which has supported the rally in stocks. It has said
it will start the process when certain economic data releases meet its targets.
Recent robust data has re-ignited speculation it could start the process
before year-end, with a better than expected reading of the ADP National
Employment Report on U.S. private-sector jobs on Wednesday raising expectations
that Friday's jobs report will surprise on the positive side.
* EASYJET : The budget airline said that its passenger numbers were
up 3.4 percent in November.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND : RBS and rating agency Standard & Poor's
have been sued by a group of European institutional investors for damages of up
to $250 million suffered on complex financial products in the lead up to the
global financial crisis.
* CENTRICA : Centrica's plan for a 2 billion pound ($3.3 billion)
wind farm off the coast of Norfolk has been snubbed by ministers, who rejected a
request for it to qualify as one of the first wave of new energy projects, the
* ROYAL DUTCH SHELL : Shell will return to Alaskan offshore drilling
next July and will deploy an upgraded drillship in the Chukchi Sea, while
keeping a newly contracted backup drillship ready if needed, according to plans
released on Wednesday.
* TALKTALK : The chatter on Wednesday was that the London-based
broadband provider's days of independence were numbered with Vodafone
mentioned among possible suitors for the company, according to various newspaper
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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