LONDON, July 18 Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening
down 32-33 points, or 0.5 percent lower on Friday, according to financial
bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* Futures for the index were down 0.2 percent by 0642 GMT.
* Reports that a Malaysian airliner had crashed triggered a sell-off in very
late trade on Thursday, and after market close a U.S. official said it strongly
suspected a surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists brought down
Big losses were seen in U.S. and Asian stocks on the back of the news.
* The UK blue chip index closed 46.35 points, or 0.7 percent, lower at
6,738.32 points on Thursday as investors, already jittery on Washington's move
to target big Russian firms with new sanctions, were met with the news of the
* IAG : British Airways said that it was keeping its once-a-day
route between Heathrow airport and Kiev under review.
* GLAXOSMITHKLINE : China will publicly prosecute a foreign couple
linked to the drugmaker on charges of illegally obtaining private information,
the country's state media said.
* SHIRE : Shire and U.S. drugmaker Abbvie Inc plan to
announce a $53 billion merger as soon as Friday morning, two people said.
* UK RETAIL BANKS: Britain's new competition watchdog said it plans to
launch a full investigation into banking services for small businesses and
personal current account customers later this year after finding a lack of
competition among the big banks.
* ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND : State-backed RBS is shuttering a
distressed-debt unit as it continues to shrink its investment bank, Bloomberg
reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.
Also, as RBS conducts a strategic review of its wealth management business,
the bank is mulling the sale of the overseas operations of it private banking
arm Coutts, which counts the Queen among its clients, the Financial Times
* HSBC : The British bank is launching a new commercial division in
Italy to lure mid-sized companies that export abroad as cash-strapped domestic
lenders give up market share. [ID: nL6N0PS39T]
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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(Reporting By Vaughan Winterbottom, editing by Tricia Wright)