* FTSE closes down 0.4 pct at 6,348.82
* Bernanke news conference due at 1800 GMT
* BT slides as CEO steps down
* Vodafone drops on talk it may bid $10 bln for Kabel
* BAE Systems boosted by EADs tie-up chatter
By David Brett
LONDON, June 19 UK equities closed slightly
lower on Wednesday as investors awaited clarity from the U.S.
Federal Reserve over the future of its monetary stimulus
All eyes will be on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's news
conference, due at 1800 GMT, in which he is expected to give
guidance on the outlook for its quantitative easing programme.
While the expectation is that the U.S. will continue with
its asset purchase programme at least until September, investors
Minutes from their most recent meeting showed Bank of
England policymakers acknowledged that further market volatility
could be on the way because of uncertainty about the direction
of U.S. monetary policy.
The threat of an early withdrawal by the Fed has seen the
FTSE 100 fall almost 7 percent since mid-May.
London's blue chip index closed down 25.39 points, or 0.4
percent at 6,348.82, with banks and miners
among the top fallers.
Experian, Land Securities, Severn Trent
and United Utilities weighed on the FTSE 100 as
they traded without the rights to their latest dividend.
BT Group fell 1.8 percent as the telecoms firm
announced chief executive Ian Livingston will step down.
Broker Liberum said Livingston's departure would prompt
short-term uncertainty for investors, with some fund managers
wary of replacement Gavin Patterson.
Heavyweight telecoms firm Vodafone shed 1.6 percent
on talk it could offer up to $10 billion for Germany's No. 1
cable operator Kabel Deutschland in an attempt to
trump rival Liberty Global.
Defence firm BAE Systems rose 1.9 percent after
media reports of potential Gulf orders worth up to 5 billion
pounds ($7.80 billion), and after the head of rival EADS
left open the possibility of a tie-up, traders said.
Despite near-term instability, equity investors remain
optimistic over the outlook for the market, with the FTSE
expected to top 6,700 by the year-end, a Reuters poll found.
"Central bank policies are focusing on growth, and as such
we believe that quantitative easing will continue. Such monetary
policies will provide a further boost to equities," Gayle
Schumacher, head of investment office at Coutts said.
(Reporting by David Brett; Editing by Louise Heavens)