UK Stocks-Factors to watch on Thursday July 26

Last Updated: Thu, Jul 26, 2012 06:50 hrs

* Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening 3 points lower, or down 0.1 percent, on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on

* The UK blue chip index closed broadly flat at 5,498.32 points on Wednesday, taking a breather after a three-session losing streak that has taken the index to four-week lows. Volume was once again weak, at two-thirds of its 90-day daily average.

* Asian shares rose on Thursday on bargain hunting as hopes grew for more U.S. stimulus to support growth and for new European measures to contain the euro zone's debt woes, but sentiment remained frail.

* London copper steadied on Thursday, recovering from a one-month low hit in the prior session as investor sentiment stabilised, but concerns the European debt crisis could yet deepen signalled that the bounce might be brief.

* Brent hovered above $104 per barrel on Thursday, with investors anticipating more U.S. stimulus measures to support growth and on fears that tensions in the Middle East could escalate causing supply concerns.

* LLOYDS BANKING GROUP reported a first-half banking net interest margin of 1.93 per cent, down 19 basis points compared to the first half of 2011.

* ASTRAZENECA reported second-quarter core earnings per share of $1.53, compared to an I/B/E/S consensus mean of $1.39.

* BG GROUP said its earnings fell 4 percent to $1,073 million in the second quarter, versus consensus forecast of $1,110 million. It raised its interim dividend by 10 percent to $0.1188 per share.

* BRITISH SKY BROADCASTING added more than 57,000 total customers in the fourth-quarter and announced a 16.2 pence per share final dividend. [ID: nASM0003DA]

* CENTRICA raised its interim dividend by 8 percent to 4.62 pence per share after reporting first-half adjusted earnings up 14 percent to 767 million pounds.

* COMPASS confirmed its full-year view in its third-quarter trading update, adding challenging economic conditions in Europe continue to put pressure on like-for-like volumes.

* REED ELSEVIER said in its first-half report that it is speeding up the pace of disposals.

* ROLLS-ROYCE HOLDINGS reported an underlying profit before tax of 637 million pounds, up seven per cent.

* TATE & LYLE said its first-quarter operating profit was in line with expectations.

* UNILEVER said strong emerging market growth helped the firm avoid the profit warnings of two of its arch rivals although it cautioned of tougher times ahead due to difficult economies and volatile input costs.

* INVESTEC said in a trading update that its operating profit before goodwill, acquired intangibles, non-operating items was in line with the prior year.

* INVENSYS said in its first-quarter trading update that it made a satisfactory start to the year and it continued to look forward to a year of improving performance.

* ITV said in its first-half report that it remains cautious about the TV advertising market outlook for the rest of 2012 but it expects to outperform it for the year.

* KAZAKHMYS confirmed its full-year production target in a second quarter update.

* LONMIN said its platinum sales were down 6.3 percent or 10,123 ounces to 150,376 ounces in the second quarter and maintained its full year sales guidance of 750,000 platinum ounces. It reduced its capex guidance for the year by $20 million to around $430 million.

* RENISHAW The Daily Mail's market report suggests that the British engineering group looks ripe for a takeover, with speculation doing the rounds of late that chief executive David McMurty, who owns a 36 percent controlling stake in the firm, could soon decide to sell up to a cash-rich private equity concern.


> Financial Times

> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Francesco Canepa)

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