LONDON, July 17 Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen
opening 2 to 4 points higher, or as much as 0.1 percent, on
Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the
factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* Futures for the FTSE 100 were flat by 0630 GMT.
* The blue-chip share index traded higher for much
of the day on Tuesday but closed down 29.7 points, or 0.5
percent, at 6,556.35 points.
* BHP BILLITON - The miner said expansion of its
iron ore operations in Australia was running ahead of schedule,
as the company posted a robust 9 percent rise in ore output to a
record annual 187 million tonnes.
* Brent futures slipped below $108 a barrel on Wednesday as
investors were reluctant to lock in fresh positions, awaiting
more clarity from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on the U.S. central
bank's plan to roll back its monetary stimulus.
* Bernanke is set to testify to Congress on Wednesday and
Thursday, and may clarify on when the central bank will roll
back its $85 billion a month bond-buying programme.
* IMPERIAL TOBACCO - Ex-divs are set to shave 1.3
points off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday, with Imperial
Tobacco trading without entitlement to its latest
* SMITHS GROUP - British engineering company Smiths
Group said headline operating profit for the year would to be up
to 15 million pounds ($22.68 million) below current
expectations, hurt by problems at its Smiths Detection
* ASTRAZENECA - The company has insisted that it has
not been contacted by Chinese authorities investigating alleged
corruption and bribery among healthcare firms in the fall-out of
the investigation of rival GlazoSmithKline, the Daily
* SEVERN TRENT - The company reported trading in
line with expectations. Dividend for 2013/14 is set to be 80.40
pence, representing a growth of 6 percent year-on-year.
* FRESNILLO - The company said its silver output
was on track, but it lowered its gold production target for 2013
to 465,000 ounces.
* BG GROUP - The British energy company said on
Tuesday it will begin exploring for oil and gas in Honduras this
year with a planned investment of at least $22 million spread
over 4 years.
* BARCLAYS - The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) ordered Barclays and four of its power traders
to pay fines totaling $453 million on Tuesday, saying the bank
manipulated California's electricity markets last decade.
* LAND SECURITIES - The company's Walkie-Talkie
skyscraper in London's financial district has pre-letting deals
for more than half its space, Britain's largest listed developer
said on Wednesday.
* London copper edged towards a one-month high.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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* 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and