LONDON Dec.6 Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening open flat to 4 points higher, or up 0.1 percent on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, with the focus on the final Bank of England and European Central Bank monetary policy decisions for 2012. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* Stocks look to be supported by renewed hopes of a deal in Washington to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of year-end tax hikes and spending cuts after President said a deal to avert the fiscal cliff was possible within a week, though he expressed it as a hope not a prediction. His comments boosted stocks on Wall Street and in Asia.
* The UK blue chip index closed up 23.04 points, or 0.4 percent on Wednesday at 5,892.08, led by gains from miners after by positive comments from China's new leader on the outlook for growth.
* STANDARD CHARTERED - The bank expects to pay $330 million to settle a case with U.S. regulators who accused the Asia-focused bank of failing to comply with sanctions against Iran, further denting profit growth this year.
* BARCLAYS - South African bank Absa Group said on Thursday it will buy the African operations of its parent Barclays for $2.1 billion, finalising a longstanding plan to fuse their businesses on the fast-growing continent.
* BHP BILLITON - The global miner could be ready to make a $55 a share cash offer for Alabama-based 'pure play' metallurgical coal producer Walter Energy, according to the Daily Mail market report
* The Bank of England looks almost certain to leave policy unchanged on Thursday a month after pausing its 375 billion pound programme of bond purchases, as sticky inflation outweighs concerns about a sluggish economy.
* The European Central Bank may give a guide to next year's policy path when it delivers fresh forecasts for the euro zone economy on Thursday at a meeting where it is expected to leave interest rates at a record low.
* British trade figures will be released at 0930 GMT, with a global trade gap of -8.80 billion pounds forecast for October, up from a -8.368 billion pounds deficit in the previous month.
* Across the Atlantic, investors will eye the November Challenger layoffs report, due at 1230 GMT, and the latest weekly initial jobless claims numbers, scheduled fo 1330 GMT, for clues to Friday's key November U.S. payrolls report.
* UK CORPORATE DIARY:
STANDARD CHARTERED issues a trading update.
EASYJET reports monthly traffic numbers.
PREMIER FARNELL posts third-quarter results.
PZ CUSSONS issues a trading update.
DS SMITH unveils first-half results.
MICRO FOCUS INTERNATIONAL reports first-half results.
MULBERRY GROUP delivers first-half results.
CARETECH HOLDINGS posts full-year results.
FALKLAND ISLANDS HOLDINGS reports first-half results.
OMG unveils full-year results.
GRAPHITE ENTERPRISE TRUST issues a trading update.
RSM TENON GROUP holds its annual general meeting.
EGDON RESOURCES holds its annual general meeting.
TODAY'S UK PAPERS
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