* Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening 38 to 42 points lower, or as much as 0.7 percent, on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* RIO TINTO - The global miner posted a 34 percent drop in first-half profit, at the better end of expectations, weighed down by weaker iron ore prices, but said it was sticking to its $16 billion spending plans for the year.
* Ex-dividend factors will knock a hefty 25.41 points off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday, with heavyweights such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, and Barclays all trading without entitlement to the latest dividend payout.
* The number of people placed in permanent jobs in Britain fell for the second straight month in July, as the summer lull was compounded by economic uncertainty and the distraction of the London Olympics, a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which represents recruitment agencies, showed on Wednesday.
* The UK blue chip index ended 32.47 points, or 0.6 percent, higher at 5,841.24 points on Tuesday, its highest close in four months.
* On the macroeconomic front, UK inflation numbers are due to be released at 0930 GMT. If the inflation report proves to be benign, it could increase the likelihood of further action from the Bank of England.
* Across the Atlantic, focus will be on U.S. mortgage data and productivity numbers, due at 1100 GMT. The mortgage market index read 945.7 and the refinancing index was 5,452.8 in the previous week.
* ASTRAZENECA, BTG - An experimental drug for severe sepsis from AstraZeneca and BTG failed to help patients in a mid-stage clinical trial and its development will now be halted, BTG said on Wednesday.
* OLD MUTUAL PLC - The Insurer reported a 12 percent rise in first-half profit, helped by a strong performance at its South African banking business, and said it was pressing ahead with plans to expand across sub-Saharan Africa.
* COBHAM PLC - The British aero electronics group said adjusted pretax profit slipped 4 percent in the first half, as expected by the market, and said it would target commercial aircraft markets in light of uncertainty about U.S. defence spending.
* SPORTINGBET - The company said that the trends experienced during the previous nine months of the year had continued into the final quarter and it expected the full-year results to be in-line with market forecasts.
* QUINTAIN ESTATES AND DEVELOPMENT - The company completed its joint venture deal with knight dragon at Greenwich.
* Brent crude dipped, coming off a 12-week top hit in the previous session, although worries about falling North Sea output and hopes for more stimulus measures from both sides of the Atlantic kept prices above $111 per barrel.
* London copper prices slipped after a three-day rally that pushed prices to a one-week high the session before.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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