The FTSE 100 <.FTSE> index was seen opening up 2-8 points, or 0.1 percent, on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers.

The main focus will be the UK budget, where Chancellor George Osborne looks set to divert attention from the country's limp economy with politically driven tax measures, aiming to appease both parties in the ruling coalition and keep financial markets onside.

The benchmark index closed down 69.70 points, or 1.2 percent, at 5,891.41 on Tuesday, having rallied more than 6 percent since the start of the year and after hitting an eight-month peak last week, dragged down by miners as BHP Billiton warned of a slowdown in demand from China.

Details of how the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee voted in their recent meeting to decide on interest rates and quantitative easing will be released at about 0930 GMT, with a unanimous vote in favour of keeping interest rates at record lows and no further quantitative easing expected.

Public sector net borrowing (PSNB) figures for February were due at 9.30 a.m. British Time. Britain posted the largest budget surplus in four years in January, putting deficit cuts ahead of plans.

In the United States, mortgage data is due out at 1100 GMT followed by existing home sales data at 2 pm British Time, with investors looking for clues to see if the upbeat consumer sentiment the world's biggest economy has been showing of late is feeding through to the embattled housing market.

British inflation may be slightly higher this year and next than the Bank of England forecast last month, due to the threat of higher oil prices and weak productivity growth, BoE chief economist Spencer Dale said on Tuesday, reinforcing expectations that the Bank of England will not extend its programme of quantitative easing when the current round is completed in May.


Formula One (F1), the top global motor racing series, is considering options for a stock market listing, a source told Reuters, as media reports named Singapore as its preferred location for the float.

BANKS European banks are preparing a new type of securitised vehicle bundling together loans to commodity trading houses to try to resolve the credit crunch in the commodities industry, the Financial Times reported.

ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND More than two thirds of London's fund managers say they would not buy the state's shares in Royal Bank of Scotland if they were sold at the UK government's break-even price of 50 pence ($79.27), according to a survey of 200 leading fund managers, the Telegraph said.

COLLINS STEWART HAWKPOINT Nearly 100 staff will be made redundant on Thursday when Canaccord Financial completes its acquisition of Collins Stewart Hawkpoint, as London's stockbroking industry continues to shed capacity, the Financial Times reported.


A battle has broken out between Apple and its rival smartphone makers over the standard industry template for miniature SIM cards for the next generation of slimmer handsets, the Financial Times said.

COMET The new owner of Comet has quietly hoisted a for sale sign above a third of its stores, as the electrical chain's landlords prepare for a round of crunch talks with OpCapita, the turnaround group that bought the chain for 2 pounds ($3.17) this year, according to the Times.

J SAINSBURY In a trading update, the UK grocer said fourth-quarter like-for-like sales rose 2.6 percent, with the summer events such as the Olympics and football's Euro 2012 to underpin its growth, but the economic environment is likely to remain challenging.

TED BAKER The fashion retailer's full-year profits rose slightly compared to 2011, increasing 0.1 percent, on retail sales up 14.1 percent on the year, while the firm increased its total dividend by 13.6 percent to 23.4 pence.

EURASIAN NATURAL RESOURCES The miner reported a 7 percent rise in full-year 2011 profits on revenues up 17 percent, but earnings per share fell 10 percent due to a one-off gain in 2010.

IQE The firm posted higher 2011 full-year profit with pretax profit up 9 percent to 6.9 million pounds, on revenues up 4 percent, and said it remained well positioned for growth.

Ex-dividend factors will take 3.1 points off FTSE 100, with Aviva , InterContinental Hotels , Smiths Group and Standard Life all losing their payout attractions.


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