LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 futures contracts were steady on Thursday, although fresh signs of a Chinese economic slowdown and concerns about the effect a further reduction of U.S. monetary stimulus on emerging markets were set to keep investors on edge.
* The UK blue chip index ended down by 0.4 percent, or 28.05 points, at 6,544.28 points on Wednesday, marking its lowest closing level in six weeks.
* CHINESE ECONOMY: Pointing to a weak start for China’s economy in 2014, the Markit/HSBC final manufacturing PMI for January dipped to 49.5 from December’s 50.5. A reading below 50 indicates a contraction while one above shows expansion.
* U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: Late on Wednesday, the Fed said it would trim its bond purchases by another $10 billion, as it stuck to a plan to scale back its stimulus despite recent turmoil in emerging markets.
* London copper slipped to a near two-month trough on Thursday, as the prospect of slowing Chinese demand for metals hit sentiment already soured by the Federal Reserve’s reduction of bond buying.
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL : Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday said it would step-up disposals and seek to return a greater share of earnings to investors as it posted fourth quarter profits in line with its downgraded forecast.
BSKY B : BSkyB posted better-than-expected first-half operating profit after the British pay-TV operator sold an increasing number of HD TV services, more on-demand movies and box-sets at Christmas, in part offsetting higher sports rights costs.
DIAGEO : Diageo, the world’s biggest distilled spirits company, reported a 1.8 percent rise in sales for the half-year to December hurt by weakness in China, Thailand and Nigeria.
KAZAKHMYS : The miner reported annual copper output at the top end of its guidance.
LONMIN : Miner Lonmin posted an increase in quarterly refined platinum production on Thursday but said it will have to reassess its guidance for the year due to a mining strike in South Africa which is disrupting production.
NATIONAL GRID /UTD UTILITIES : Both the utility companies said they were trading in line with expectations.
3I : British private equity group 3i said on Thursday it had completed 29 million pounds ($48 million) of exits in the three months to Dec. 31, taking its total proceeds for the year so far to 557 million pounds.
JOHNSON MATTHEY : The speciality chemicals group said its outlook had improved and named Robert Macleod as its new chief executive.
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