* Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening 51 to 53 points, or as
much as 1 percent, lower on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, as the
prospect of fresh Greek elections in June increased worry over the impact of the
country's possible exit from the euro zone. For more on the factors affecting
European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed down 27.90 points, or 0.5 percent on Tuesday
at 5,437.62. adding to the previous session's 2 percent drop.
* BHP BILLITON - Jacques Nasser, chairman of the world's biggest
miner, said in a speech to business leaders in Sydney the firm expects commodity
markets to cool further and that investors had lost confidence in the
longer-term health of the global economy.
* ASTRAZENECA - Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. maker of
diabetes-focused medicines, has attracted a string of potential suitors,
including Anglo-Swedish group AstraZeneca, the Financial Times reported, quoting
people close to the situation.
* RBS - The partly state-owned lender's chief executive, Stephen
Hester, is not being paid enough for his work, according to some of the lender's
largest shareholders, the Daily Telegraph said.
* London copper fell to a four-month low, extending losses to a
fourth consecutive session as the political crisis in Greece deepened overall
global economic concerns.
* Oil prices fell more than $1 a barrel on Wednesday as a
larger-than-expected rise in crude stocks in top consumer United States and
fears of Greece's exit from the euro zone muddied the outlook for demand growth.
* Bank of England Governor Mervyn King is seen leaving the door open for
more support for Britain's struggling economy, prompted by escalating dangers
from the euro zone, with the central bank expected to cut its growth forecast
and nudge up its medium-term inflation prediction towards its 2 percent target
in its quarterly Inflation Report due to be published at 0930 GMT.
* The latest British jobs report will be released at 0830 GMT, with April
claimant count seen up 5,000, after a 3,600 rise in March, with March's ILO
Unemployment rate seen unchanged at 8.3 percent.
* Across the Atlantic, April U.S. housing starts will be released at 1230
GMT, with April U.S. industrial production due at 1315 GMT. Attention, however,
will be mostly on the release of minutes from April's Federal Reserve Open
Market Committee meeting, due after the London market close at 1800 GMT.
* Stocks trading without the entitlement to their latest dividend will knock
6.22 points off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday, with Glencore, HSBC
, WM Morrison, Polymetal International, Sage Group
, J Sainsbury, and Whibread all trading ex-dividend.
* UK CORPORATE DIARY:
BG GROUP holds its annual general meeting.
TULLOW OIL issues an AGM trading update.
LAND SECURITIES posts full-year results.
ICAP reports full-year results.
COMPASS GROUP delivers first-half results.
SCOTTISH & SOUTHERN ENERGY unveils full-year results.
LEGAL & GENERAL holds its annual general meeting.
BOVIS HOMES issues a trading update.
CAPITAL & REGIONAL issues a trading update.
XCHANGING posts first-half results.
GREGGS issues an AGM trading update.
HARDY OIL & GAS issues a first-quarter trading update.
SPEEDY HIRE reveals full-year results.
INTERSERVE issues a trading update.
TRIBAL GROUP issues a trading update.
VERTU MOTORS reports full-year results.
HILTON FOOD GROUP issues an AGM trading update.
CANDOVER INVESTMENTS issues an AGM trading update.
CINEWORLD GROUP issues a trading update.
CLS HOLDINGS issues a first-quarter trading update.
IMPAX ASSET MANAGEMENT posts first-half results.
ACTIVE RISK GROUP unveils full-year results.
CAPE INTERMEDIATE holds its annual general meeting.
CPP GROUP holds its annual general meeting.
DERWENT LONDON holds its annual general meeting.
AUTOCLENZ HOLDING holds its annual general meeting.
ARBUTHNOT BANKING GROUP holds its annual general meeting.
HILL & SMITH HOLDINGS holds its annual general meeting.
HOWDEN JOINERY GROUP holds its annual general meeting.
PUBLISHING TECHNOLOGY holds its annual general meeting.
SOURCE BIOSCIENCE holds its annual general meeting.
SKYEPHARMA holds its annual general meeting.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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* 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Jon Hopkins)