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Aug 14 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is expected to open 21 points higher at 7,272 on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, with futures up 0.2% ahead of the cash market open.
* BALFOUR BEATTY: British infrastructure company Balfour Beatty Plc reported higher first-half underlying pretax profit and increased its annual cash forecast on Wednesday, buoyed by lower costs and higher margin projects.
* AVAST: Cybersecurity company Avast said revenue growth for the year would be at the upper end of its high, single digit percentage range after a strong first half, driven by demand for products like VPN and AntiTrack that help secure users’ privacy.
ADMIRAL: British insurer Admiral on Wednesday posted a 4% rise in pretax profit in the first half of the year, driven by strong performance in its UK business.
* STANDARD CHARTERED: Standard Chartered is targeting growing its private banking assets by 50% to about $100 billion in three to five years and hire dozens of bankers in Hong Kong and Singapore towards that goal, a senior executive of the lender said.
* LOOKERS PLC: Car dealership Lookers Plc LOOK.L on Wednesday posted a steep drop in first-half profit and said it sees higher costs over the next several years, as it carves out a plan to fix some issues it found in its sales practices.
* BANK OF GEORGIA: London-listed Bank of Georgia reported a 36.9% rise in first-half profit on the back of strong lending at its retail banking business, while its overall margins were hurt by pricing pressure in the unsecured consumer lending market.
* GLENCORE: Global commodity miner and trader Glencore on Wednesday lost its case to stop Australian tax authorities using business information that was leaked as part of the so-called Paradise Papers. The ruling potentially opens the door for Glencore to receive a backdated tax bill.
* RYANAIR: Ryanair’s directly employed pilots in Ireland agreed to attend mediated talks starting on Wednesday to avert a strike their trade union said would go ahead next week if the airline does not properly address a pay claim.
* OIL: Oil prices fell on Wednesday on disappointing economic data from China and a rise in U.S. crude inventories, erasing some of the sharp gains in the previous session on signs of an easing in Sino-U.S. trade tensions.
* GOLD: Gold prices dipped on Wednesday after the United States delayed tariffs on some Chinese imports, easing trade concerns, although political uncertainties and lingering global growth concerns limited losses for the safe-haven metal.
* UK’s FTSE 100 ended 0.3% higher on Tuesday, reversing earlier losses, after the United States said it would delay tariffs on some Chinese products, offering respite to investors who had been gripped with fears over the trade dispute.
* For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on:
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines (Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Shanima A in Bengaluru)