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09-11-2010 07:56:06

FTSE seen opening flat

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening flat to slightly lower on Tuesday, consolidating as investors lock in profits after solid gains last week, with concerns over euro zone sovereign debt lurking in the background.

The blue chip index looks set to open unchanged to down 6 points, or 0.1 percent lower, according to financial bookmakers, after it closed down 25.39 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,849.96 on Monday.

The index hit a 29-month closing high on Friday as investors cheered the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment on Wednesday to extend quantitative easing.

In terms of domestic economic news, British house prices fell last month at their sharpest pace in a year-and-a-half as a lack of mortgage finance and an uncertain economic outlook deterred potential buyers, a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors indicated.

British retail sales picked up in October, driven mainly by higher prices rather than nervous shoppers buying more goods, a survey by the British Retail Consortium showed.

Investors will also look at September trade balance figures, September industrial production data, and September manufacturing output data, all due at 9:30 a.m.

The euro has dropped 3 percent against the dollar from a 9-1/2 month high set last week and against the yen has slipped to a one-week low.

Ireland is the latest country to rattle the single currency, with Irish borrowing costs extending a month-long climb on worries about a political impasse in Dublin ahead of a budget vote. The yield on Irish 10-year bonds hit 8 percent for the first time on Monday.

Adding to the market's cautious tone, top officials at the U.S. Federal Reserve offered differing assessments of the central bank's $600 billion bond-buying programme announced last week.

Another uncertainty for markets is a G20 leaders' meeting this week in South Korea, where currency tensions loom large.

"With growing criticism and uncertainty about the effectiveness of QE2 and the G20 meeting later this week, traders are seen taking a breather from the market and booking profits," Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads, wrote in a note.

"Also, the resurgence of European Sovereign debt worries could be a driver of momentum today," he said.

Wall Street retreated from a two-year high on Monday, weighed down by financial stocks and a stronger dollar.

U.S. September wholesale inventories data is scheduled for release at 3p.m. British time.

UK stocks to watch on Tuesday:

ASSOCIATED BRITISH FOODS (Associated British Foods PLC O)

The food to retail group reports full-year results.

BARCLAYS (Barclays PLC ORD 25P)

The bank issues a third-quarter trading update.

HAMMERSON (Hammerson PLC ORD 25P)

The property investor issues a trading update.

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP (Intercontinental Hotels Group)

The hotelier reports third-quarter results.

LEGAL & GENERAL (Legal & General Group PLC)

The insurer issues a third-quarter trading update.

MARKS & SPENCER GROUP (Marks AND Spencer Group PLC OR)

The retailer reports first-half results.

RANDGOLD RESOURCES (Randgold Resources LD ORD $0.0)

The gold miner reports third-quarter results.

VODAFONE GROUP (Vodafone Group PLC ORD USD0.20)

The mobile telecoms firm reports first-half results.

BABCOCK INTERNATIONAL (Babcock International Group PL)

The defence services group posts first-half results.

CAPITAL & COUNTIES PROPERTIES

The developer issues a trading update.

DRAX GROUP (Drax Group PLC ORD 11 16/29P)

The power station operator issues a trading update.

JARDINE LLOYD THOMPSON GROUP (Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group P)

The insurance broker issues a trading update.

TODAY'S UK PAPERS

> Financial Times

> Other business headlines

(Reporting by Tricia Wright)

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