* Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening up 17 to 24 points, or
0.4 percent on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, recovering much of
the previous session's decline in tandem with gains in Asia on continuing hopes
for central bank action to aid stuttering global growth. For more on the factors
affecting European stocks, please click on
* China's Commerce Ministry on Thursday said the economy was having its
longest run of falling inward investment growth and the trade outlook for 2012
was worsening, bolstering hopes that Beijing would soon roll out more pro-growth
* Expectations for further stimulus in China grew on Wednesday after Premier
Wen Jiabao said the country continued to face "headwinds" despite cooling
inflation, with market participants saying an imminent cut in bank reserve
ratios was likely.
* The UK blue chip index closed down 31.74 points, or 0.5 percent on
Wednesday at 5,833.04, in sluggish volumes as weakness in index heavyweights
such as miners, tobaccos and Vodafone outstripped gains in financials.
* STANDARD CHARTERED - The bank is pursuing a collective settlement
with other U.S. authorities after agreeing to pay $340 million to New York's
financial regulator under mounting pressure from shareholders.
* HSBC - The global bank has handed over details of current and
former employees to the U.S. authorities, it confirmed on Wednesday, as part of
a tax probe that almost sank rival bank UBS in 2009. As a result the
bank could now face legal action from individuals whose details have been
revealed, lawyers representing them said.
* BHP BILLITON - The global miner said on Thursday jobs could go at
its Australian coal mines as the company faces a deteriorating global market,
the latest sign of global miners scaling back due to slowing industrial activity
* REED ELSEVIER - The Anglo-Dutch publishing and events group has
named Duncan Palmer as its new finance officer on Thursday to replace Mark
Armour, w ho will stand down at the end of the year.
* AFRICAN BARRICK GOLD - Canada's Barrick Gold is in
preliminary discussions with China National Gold Group Corporation over its 74
percent stake in unit African Barrick Gold, th e world's largest gold producer
said on Thursday.
* HIKMA PHARMACEUTICALS - The drugs firm reported a 12.9 percent
rise in first-half adjusted profit attributable to shareholders to $46 million,
on revenue up 34.8 percent to $532.3 million, and said it remains on track to
deliver revenue growth of 20 percent for the full year, with the outlook
positive for the second-half.
* DESIRE PETROLEUM - The Falkland Islands-focused explorer said
seismic expression of the Elaine and Isobel prospects indicates a thick,
sand-prone interval inter-bedded with mature oil source rock, with gross
prospective resources comparable with the size of the Sea Lion field, and added
that there was a 30 percent geological chance of success for the prospects.
* CINEWORLD - The cinemas operator said profit nearly doubled in
the first half of the year and that upcoming releases such as "The Hobbit", the
next James Bond film "Skyfall" and the final instalment of the Twilight series
would help them meet market expectations for the full year.
* BATM ADVANCED COMMUNICATIONS - The Israel-based firm reports a
fall in first-half EBITDA to $1.2 million, down from $3.4 million at the same
stage in 2011, on revenue of $53.2 million, down from $55.6 million, saying its
medical division showed good growth, and its telecom division is poised to
return to growth.
* MICRO FOCUS INTERNATIONAL - The group has proposed a cash return
to shareholders of 50 pence per share as it said its adjusted EBITDA in the
half-year to July 31 was in line with management expectations and guidance for
the full year remains unchanged.
* CARCLO - The group says trading remains in line with the board's
* INFORMA : Shares in the publisher of shipping guide Lloyds list
rose on Wednesday as rumours did the rounds that the firm was the focus of a
possible 600 pence a share bid, with Germany's Axel Springer, one of
the largest multimedia companies in Europe, and private equity groups Apax and
Carlyle thought to be looking at the firm, according to the Daily Mail market
* British retail sales numbers for July will be released at 0830 GMT, with
the figure seen down 0.1 percent month-on-month, after a 0.1 percent rise in
June, leading to a annualised increase of 1.4 percent, down from 1.6 percent in
the previous month.
* U.S. July housing starts are due at 1230 GMT, together with the latest
weekly initial jobless claims, with August's Philly Fed index due at 1400 GMT.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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* 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Jon Hopkins)