London pre-open: FTSE to start 'Titanic' week off on the right foot



LONDON (ShareCast) - City sources predict the FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) will open up 20 points from Friday's close of 6,154, continuing last week's gains and remaining well above the significant 6,000 mark.

"Titanic" is how Investec (LSE: INVP.L - news) referred to the week ahead in a note sent to clients, as investors in the UK will have to watch several potentially key indicators. The most important amongst those is expected to be the report on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on Friday, with the 'wild card' being how ONS will estimate output from the construction sector.

All told, the UK economy may have contracted at a quarterly rate of -0.2 per cent. Yet what most keeps Investec economists awake at night is the possibility that Sir Mervyn King triggers new fears of weak growth in the UK with his speech on Tuesday evening, in Belfast, in whose shipyards the Titanic was built and christened.

The above will be supplemented by other key indicators linked to UK public sector finances, on Tuesday, followed by the latest employment figures on Wednesday.

On the cards today, investors can expect the Rightmove UK house price survey and the German producer price index.

In UK company news, life insurance giant Resolution has appointed the Chairman of the Friends Life Group, Sir Malcolm Williamson, as its Chairman Designate, following its 'simplified governance' shake-up announced in August of last year. He will take up his new role when the boards of Resolution and Friends Life Group are unified at the end of March, though the management structure changes are still subject to shareholder approval.

Production at Cote D'Ivore-based Randgold Resources' Tongon mine has returned to normal after a fire in the mills section of the plant three weeks ago, an announcement from the company issued on Monday morning showed. Both mill circuits are expected to be fully operational within two weeks.

The non-Executive Chairman of Stobart Group, the UK-based support services firm, has announced his plans to retire with immediate effect. Rodney Baker-Bates, who has held the role since September 2007, will remain on the board until March. Deputy Chief Executive Avril Palmer-Baunack, who took up the role following the group's acquisition of Autologic last year, has now been appointed as Executive Chairman with immediate effect.

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