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UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Thurs March 1
March 1, 2012 / 6:41 AM / in 6 years

UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Thurs March 1

LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 4-5 points, or 0.1 percent on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, the first session of a new month, modestly extending Wednesday’s late drop in tandem with falls on Wall Street and in Asia amid concern over the fragile state of the global economy.

The UK blue chip index closed down 56.40 points, or 1.0 percent on Wednesday at 5,871.51, in spite of getting initial support from the European Central Bank making cheap loans available to lenders, after bearish comments on the U.S. economy from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke hurt sentiment.

“What started out as a promising month ended with a whimper as the FTSE closed below the mid-point of the month’s range. Starting a new month on the weak side of a 50 percent level often indicates that the selling may be greater than the buying at current price levels,” said James A. Hyerczyk, analyst at Autochartist.

“Based on the rising wedge chart pattern failure on the daily chart, the FTSE is now in a position to break into a target zone at 5,827.28 ... Without any reference points to provide support, it is possible that the market may not see fresh buying until it tests 5,651.60. We could be looking at the start of the major correction that traders have been waiting for since mid-January.”

U.S. blue chips closed 0.4 percent lower on Wednesday, snapping a four-session advance and retreating back below the 13,000 level, after the Fed Chairman’s testimony to Congress disappointed investors hoping for a strong signal of more stimulus measures.

Asian shares also fell on Thursday as Bernanke’s comments put the brakes on a recent rally and after Chinese official and private-sector factory data also reminded investors of the fragile state of the global economy.

The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan shed 0.9 percent after rising 1.4 percent to a seven-month high on Wednesday.

China’s official purchasing managers’ index rose to 51.0 in February from January’s 50.5, as the factory sector grew more than expected with export orders expanding for the first time in four months.

The HSBC Flash PMI, a private sector survey that is the earliest indicator of China’s industrial activity, hit a four-month high of 49.7 in February, but new export orders shrank the most in eight months as global demand weakened.

The data from China did keep alive hopes the world’s second-biggest economy can avoid a hard landing, but also underscored the formidable headwinds facing the country as exports falter.

Copper prices edged up in Asian trade after the above-forecast official China data, although the modest gains reflected some worry it could discourage more monetary easing by Beijing, which might dent copper demand.

Brent crude futures held steady above $122 on Thursday, drawing support from the better factory data from China amid concerns of supply disruption from the Middle East.

On the domestic data front, February’s Markit/CIPS British manufacturing PMI numbers wll be released at 0928 GMT, with a reading of 51.8 forecast, down from 52.1 in January.

Investors will also eye a big batch of U.S. data including the latest U.S. initial weekly jobless claims and January personal income and consumption numbers, both due at 1330 GMT, and February ISM data at 1500 GMT.

* GLOBAL MARKETS-Markets dampened by Bernanke, data awaited

* Wall St snaps 4-day advance after Bernanke remarks

* Tokyo’s Nikkei share average closes down 0.16 pct

* FOREX-Dollar eases off 3-month low on Fed no easing hint

* TREASURIES-U.S. bonds creep slightly lower

* Brent steady above $122 on supply concerns, China, U.S.

* PRECIOUS-Gold edges up 1 pct after plunge on Bernanke

* METALS-Copper tentative as China data may lessen easing

UK stocks to watch on Thursday are:


HSBC Holdings is nearing a deal to sell its general insurance business for about $1 billion, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, with French insurer AXA SA and Australia’s QBE Insurance Group Ltd expected to split the business, a separate report said.


Rio Tinto, the world’s third-largest miner, said it sees coking coal and copper markets remaining tight, while margins were being squeezed in aluminium, the firm’s chief economist, Vivek Tulpule said in slides prepared for a presentation in Sydney.


One of BSkyB’s biggest investors has warned that James Murdoch’s exit from News International suggests he will soon lose his position as chairman of the pay-TV broadcaster, The Daily Telegraph said.


U.S. health regulators approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine to prevent seasonal influenza in people aged 2-49 years.


Game Group’s future looked shaky after one of its most important suppliers, Electronic Arts, stopped distributing its video games to the retailer, The Daily Telegraph said.


The miner issues a trading update.


The hedge fund manager posts full-year results.


The advertising group reports full-year results.


The transport operator issues a trading update.


The telecoms testing equipment firm unveils full-year results.


The defence contractor issues a trading update.


The property group delivers full-year results.


The non-woven fabrics maker reveals full-year results.


The Lloyd’s of London insurance group posts full-year results.


The kitchens supplier unveils full-year results.


The insurance broker reports full-year results.


The Lloyd’s of London insurance group posts full-year results.


The marketing services provider reveals full-year results.


The office supplies group delivers full-year results.


The mobile computing technology group unveils full-year results.


The motor claims solutions provider posts full-year results.


The surveillance technology firm reports full-year results.


The staffing group delivers full-year results.


The student accomodation group posts full-year results.


The media products firm unveils full-year results.


The outsourcing group reports full-year results.


> Financial Times

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