March 19, 2014 / 7:40 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-UK Stocks-Factors to watch on March 19

(Adds futures, news)

LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening slightly higher on Wednesday, with futures up 0.1 percent by 0735 GMT ahead of the cash market open. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on

* Investors were unlikely to place large bets ahead of a policy update from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The Fed is set to further trim its bond-buying stimulus and could rewrite its guidance on when it might eventually raise interest rates, with some expecting chairman Janet Yellen to scrap a numerical target on unemployment and adopt a more flexible stance.

* The UK blue chip index closed up 36.93 points, or 0.6 percent, at 6,605.28 points - marking only the second time in the last eight sessions that it has ended in positive territory - after a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine, which some traders interpreted as being conciliatory in tone.

* British finance minister George Osborne will announce a pre-election budget on Wednesday that is likely to offer some tax relief to voters but will stick closely to his tough decade-long plan to fix the public finances.

* Bank of England Governor Mark Carney announced an overhaul of the central bank on Tuesday, saying the almost exclusive focus by central banks on inflation in the past was “fatally flawed”.

* Stocks trading without the attraction of their latest dividend, namely Anglo American, British Land and InterContinental Hotels, will knock up to 2.44 points off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday.

* SMITHS GROUP : The British engineer said first-half profit fell 3 percent due to pricing pressure in its second largest unit, and a strong pound that reduced the U.S.-dominant manufacturer’s margins.

* STANDARD CHARTERED : Standard Chartered has launched Islamic banking services in Kenya, the first foray of its “Saadiq” brand into Africa, and it will use Kenya as a testbed for expanding the brand across the continent, a bank executive told Reuters.


> Financial Times

> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit * BridgeStation: view story .134 For more information on Top News visit (Reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Francesco Canepa)

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