City sources predict the FTSE 100 will open around four points lower than yesterday's close of 6,807.75.
Stocks to watch
Currency headwinds blew earnings per share 12% lower at British American Tobacco in the first half of the year, although underlying profits improved if exchange rates
were held steady. Group revenue was up 3% at constant rates of exchange to £7.78bn, but down by 10% to £6.80bn at the reported level due to the adverse exchange rate
Chile-focused mining group Antofagasta has maintained its production guidance for 2014 after a sequential increase in output in the second quarter, while net cash costs were broadly flat. Group copper production in the three months to June 30th totalled 178,800 tonnes, up 5.5% on the first quarter of the year. The firm said this was mainly a result of higher plant throughput levels following the scheduled maintenance at its Los Pelambres and Esperanza projects at the start of the year.
Astrazeneca has agreed to pay between $875m and $1.22bn for the rights to Almirall's respiratory franchise. The move will give it the rights for the development and commercialisation of Almirall's existing proprietary respiratory business, including rights to revenues from Almirall's existing partnerships, as well as its pipeline of investigational novel therapies. Payments made after the initial consideration of $875m will be based on development, launch, and sales-related milestones.
The World Cup and the UK's economic upturn helped broadcaster ITV to boost half-year earnings by 11% as it voiced confidence about its autumn programme schedule and said it was on track to expand internationally.
In the Press
EU governments have agreed to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia, targeting state-owned banks, imposing an arms embargo and restricting sales of sensitive technology and the export of equipment for the country's oil industry, in response to Moscow's continued backing for separatists in eastern Ukraine. The punitive measures, the most extensive EU sanctions imposed on Russia since the cold war, were agreed by ambassadors from the 28 member states after a seven-hour debate. - The Guardian
Attempts to defuse public anger over energy bosses' pay by appointing a new, cheaper, chief executive at British Gas were widely criticised yesterday. Sam Laidlaw, who was entitled to up to £6.9 million if he hit all performance targets, is quitting sooner than expected after eight years at the top of Centrica, which owns Britain's biggest household energy supplier. Last year he forfeited his bonus and earned less than £2 million. - The Times
China confirmed that it had launched an anti-monopoly investigation into Microsoft, plunging the business environment for western companies into a new realm of uncertainty. The investigation into the American software giant, which involved a series of raids on its largest offices in China on Monday, is thought to be part of a Beijing-led drive to reduce the swagger of foreign companies and to improve the competitiveness of their Chinese rivals as broader economic growth fades. - The Times
Equity markets were slightly jittery on Tuesday as the White House and Europe ratcheted up economic sanctions on Russia, with Wednesday's looming Federal Reserve policy decision also imposing itself on traders' minds.
Mid-session the European Union (EU) agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia for its involvement in the fighting in Ukraine, with measures to prevent Russian banks from accessing European capital markets or taking loans from their European peers, as well as restrictions on access to sensitive technology and equipment for the oil industry.
Washington later added to its own current measures, releasing a list of Russian banks that were to be prevented from transactions with Americans, including the Bank of Moscow, the Russian Agricultural Bank and VTB Bank.