UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Dec 18

(Adds futures, updates news items)

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is expected to open 2 points lower at 7,524 on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures down 0.1% ahead of the cash market open.

* NMC HEALTH PLC: NMC Health Plc reaffirmed its forecasts for 2019 and 2020, a day after a report from U.S. short-selling firm Muddy Waters wiped a third off the value of the healthcare group’s market value.

* STANDARD CHARTERED: Standard Chartered has pulled financing for three coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia amid a global push to cut greenhouse gas emissions, throwing into doubt projects worth an estimated $7 billion and piling pressure on the coal industry.

* STAFFLINE GROUP: British recruitment company Staffline Group Plc lowered its full-year adjusted operating profit forecast, due to softer-than-anticipated hiring from its customers in the fourth quarter.

* PEARSON: British education company Pearson said it would sell its remaining 25% stake in publisher Penguin Random House to partner Bertelsmann, generating net proceeds of about $675 million.

* BHP: Global miner BHP Group is feeling its way back into commodities trading, making a dedicated hire to help it manage a base metals book in Singapore as it seeks to boost returns and manage transaction risk, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

* BAT: British American Tobacco (BAT) must stop advertising its e-cigarettes from any public account on Instagram, including influencers’ accounts, the UK’s advertising watchdog ruled.

* METRO BANK: Metro Bank said on Tuesday Vernon Hill, the founding chairman of the struggling British lender, had stepped down as a non-executive director.

* GOLD: Gold prices were largely subdued , with investors awaiting more details on U.S.-China trade deal, while palladium retreated from last session’s record peak.

* OIL: Oil retreated after rising more than 1% in the previous session as U.S. industry data showed a surprise build in crude stocks, but hopes for firmer demand next year checked a deeper fall in prices.

* The UK blue-chip index eked out a 0.1% gain on Tuesday, lifted by trade-sensitive stocks amid optimism about a proper trade agreement between China and the United States.

* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:


> Financial Times

> Other business headlines (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru)