LONDON Jan 23 Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 18 to 25 points, or as much as 0.4 percent on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, tracking a late rally to 5-year highs on Wall Street fueled by positive earnings and an extension of the U.S. debt limit. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed down 1.81 points, or 0.03 percent on Tuesday at 6,179.17 points, stalling after a recent push up to its highest level in four-and-a-half years, weighed by falls in financials and mining stocks.
* On Wall Street, gains in bank and commodity shares also led the Standard & Poor's 500 index up to a fresh five-year closing high on Tuesday, and earnings results from technology companies posted after the closing bell also did not disappoint.
* IBM reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat analysts' forecasts and Google Inc said net revenue in its core Internet business increased more than 20 percent in the fourth quarter.
* The stock market also got some support on signals that Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives would aim on Wednesday to pass a bill to extend the U.S. debt limit by nearly four months. The White House welcomed the move, saying it would remove uncertainty about the issue.
* BHP BILLITON - The world's biggest mining company, boosted its iron ore output by 3 percent in the December quarter, slightly below analysts' forecasts, as it races to supply more of the raw material to Chinese steelmakers despite signs of a softening market.
* BG GROUP : The energy firm rose on Tuesday amid rehashed speculation that BP was running the slide-rule over the company, according to the Daily Mail market report.
* UNITED UTILITIES - The utilities company was shrouded in speculation that a consortium of infrastructure funds: GIP - the owner of Gatwick airport, Canadian investors Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Borealis, were lining up a bid of between 8 and 10 billion pounds, with Bankers Goldman Sachs said to be willing to advise, while JP Morgan is believed to be willing to provide 5 billion pounds of financing for the deal, according to the Daily Telegraph market report.
* BARCLAYS - The bank is cutting up to 2,000 jobs in its investment bank as part of a strategic overhaul by the bank's chief executive Antony Jenkins, the Financial Times said.
* BSKYB - British Culture minister Ed Vaizey will say on Wednesday that the government will intervene if BSkyB does not voluntarily stop charging the BBC and other public service broadcasters fees for carrying their channels on its satellite service, the Daily Telegraph said.
* HMV GROUP -The future for the music and DVD retailer that went into administration last week, brightened after specialist investor Hilco effectively took control on Tuesday. Hilco, which buys distressed businesses, said it had bought HMV's debt to provide stability for the business during the administration, the Times said.
* Minutes from January's Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meeting will be released at 0930 GMT, with no change expected to the unanimous 9-0 vote seen in December to maintain British interest rates at record lows, and the 8-1 vote to leave its quantitative easing programme unchanged.
* British jobless numbers will also be released at 0930 GMT, with the December claimant count seen flat, after a 3,000 decrease in November, and the ILO annualised unemployment rate seen unchanged month-on-month at 7.8 percent in November.
* Across the Atlantic, November's FHFA U.S. home prices survey for November will be released at 1400 GMT, preceeded by the latest weekly U.S. mortgage and refinancing indexes at 1200 GMT.
* UK CORPORATE DIARY:
UNILEVER issues a fourth-quarter trading update.
LAND SECURITIES GROUP issues a third-quarter trading update.
SAGE GROUP issues a first-quarter trading update.
HOCHSCHILD MINING issues an output statement.
WH SMITH issues an AGM trading update.
BRITVIC issues a first-quarter trading update.
CLOSE BROTHERS GROUP issues a trading update.
FINDEL issues a third-quarter trading update.
BIOME TECHNOLOGIES issues a trading update.
TOPPS TILES holds its annual general meeting.
REDEFINE INTERNATIONAL holds its annual general meeting.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Jon Hopkins)
Our top photos from the last 24 hours.