LONDON Feb 29 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 3-5 points, or 0.1 percent on Wednesday, according to financial bookmakers, pausing after gains in the previous session on the final, leap day session of the month, with investors awaiting the outcome of another cash injection for banks from the ECB.
The European Central Bank is expecetd to inject about 500 billion euros ($670 billion) into the euro zone’s financial system on Wednesday to fight the regional debt crisis, enabling banks to tap as much of the ultra-cheap, 3-year loans as they like. It will be the second cash injection since December.
“Traders are in two minds as to whether another injection of liquidity from the ECB will propel markets higher or whether it will mark the peak in the recent run-up in equity markets,” said Jonathan Sudaria, dealer at Capital Spreads.
“A figure that is regarded as a high take up will likely see risky assets move higher. However, an in-line or low take up could see the reverse.”
The UK blue chip index closed up 12.36 points, or 0.2 percen on Tuesday at 5,927.91, led higher by firmer miners which tracked metal prices higher on the anticipation that cheap ECB loans flooding the financial system will boost the outlook for raw materials demand and for lending.
On Wall Street on Tuesday, the Dow also closed 0.2 percent higher, ending above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008, while the broader S&P 500 also hit a milestone, as buoyant U.S. consumer confidence data and a sharp drop in oil prices nudged the nearly five-month rally forward.
And Asian stocks rose to a seven-month high on Wednesday, with the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan ahead 1.4 percent, supported by broad gains across sectors.
Copper and oil prices recovered from earlier losses in Asia trade, while a weaker dollar supported precious metals.
British consumer confidence held steady in February at the seven-month high reached last month, a survey by GfK NOP showed on Wednesday, keeping alive hopes that recent evidence of a pick-up in consumption may herald an economic recovery.
The headline index in the survey stayed at the -29 level reached in January. But it fell short of economists’ forecast for a reading of -27 and was still lower than a year ago.
The Bank of England’s consumer credit and mortgage lending data for January will be released at 0930 GMT.
Investors will also focus on some key U.S. pointers, with preliminary U.S. fourth-quarter GDP numbers due at 1330 GMT, February’s Chicago PMI scheduled for 1445 GMT, and the Fed’s latest Biege Book published after the London close at 1900 GMT.
Ex-dividend considerations will knock 7.65 points off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday, with mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, together with drinks firm Diageo, all losing their payout attractions.
* US STOCKS-Dow, S&P hit milestones on confidence, lower oil
* GLOBAL MARKETS-Broad gains as ECB fund injection awaited
* Brent rises above $122; ECB loan may spur buying
* Copper retreats from 2-week high, ECB eyed
* FOREX-Euro pins hopes on ECB; yen retreats
UK stocks to watch on Wednesday are:
The Asian-focused bank reported a 2011 pretax profit of $6.78 billion, up from the $6.12 billion it recorded a year earlier, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse. The result was in line with an expectation for $6.8 billion from a poll of 24 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
BP is seeking to settle a lawsuit over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill by tapping a $14 billion fund it set aside to compensate fishermen and businesses harmed by the disaster, lawyers familiar with the talks said.
Tighter credit and labour shortages will thwart miners’ plans to boost iron ore output, global miner Rio Tinto said on Tuesday, joining other majors in playing down concerns the market would soon be oversupplied.
Vodafone was in head-on conflict with the European Commission on Tuesday after warning that mobile companies would slash investment in new networks if regulators did not ease up on prices, The Times said.
Polish coking coal producer JSW has held early-stage talks with BXR Group, which owns 64 percent of Czech-based New World, about a combination of the FTSE 250 company with the Polish business, the Daily Telegraph said.
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TAYLOR WIMPEY <TW.L
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The property group reveals full-year results.
The emerging markets-focused lender delivers full-year results.
The support services and construction firm unveils full-year results.
The powered access equipment rental group posts full-year results.
The investment group reports full-year results.
The accident claims handler unveils first-half results.
The engineering and automotive consultancy delivers first-half results.
The restaurants operator posts full-year results.
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The glass fibre insulation firm issues a trading statement.
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The coal producer holds its annual general meeting.
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
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