LONDON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - December futures on Britain’s FTSE 100 index were down by 0.4 percent in early trade on Monday, pointing to a lower open on the cash market, due to a lack of progress in breaking a political stalemate over the U.S. budget and debt ceiling. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* The UK blue chip index closed up by 4.84 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,453.88 points on Friday.
* London copper barely moved on Monday as a lack of progress in resolving the U.S. fiscal standoff cooled demand expectations, while top consumer China was absent for the last day of its week-long break.
* Brent futures edged down towards $109 a barrel on Monday as oil production resumed in the Gulf of Mexico after a tropical storm.
* SERCO : Global outsourcing group Serco faces a wide-ranging government investigation into its largest state contracts, the Sunday Times reported, adding that its UK and Europe chief executive Jeremy Stafford is expected to leave.
* NATIONAL EXPRESS : The transport group said it had been shortlisted for a Berlin rail contract.
* THOMAS COOK : The travel and tourism company said it had sold businesses serving customers in Egypt and Lebanon.
* SABLE MINING : Guinea-focused iron ore miner Sable Mining said on Monday it had been granted permission to export through Liberia by the Guinean government, which could increase the viability of its Nimba project.
* PETRA DIAMONDS : The company said it was on track to meet its production targets.
* ADRIATIC OIL: The oil group said it aimed to list its shares on AIM.
* Britain’s banks and other financial firms are at their most optimistic for almost 17 years, according to an industry survey.
* London’s junior stock market grew for the first time in six years in the third quarter, according to research on Monday, as more companies joined than left.
* The London Metal Exchange is planning to publish new information about the futures positions of hedge funds and other traders, responding to calls for greater transparency, the Financial Times reported.
TODAY‘S UK PAPERS
> Financial Times
> Other business headlines Multimedia versions of Reuters Top News are now available for: * 3000 Xtra : visit* BridgeStation: view story .134(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Francesco Canepa)