London pre-open: Little change expected on FTSE

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LONDON (ShareCast) - City sources predict the FTSE 100 (FTSE: ^FTSE - news) will open up just two points from Monday's close of 5,954, with the market generally lacking direction as investors return after a two-and-a-half day holiday over the Christmas period.

Trading volumes are expected to continue to be light, with little in the way of company or UK economic news.

Looking abroad, US President Barack Obama has ended his Christmas holiday early in an effort to tackle the looming 'fiscal cliff'.

Yesterday saw Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner write a letter to congressional leaders saying that he must authorise extraordinary measures to prevent the US reaching its debt ceiling of $16.4trn on December 31st.

The move would be a temporary one which gives the government headroom of $200bn - although because of the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff, it is not yet known how long that amount will last.

Obama and Senate leaders have returned to Washington in an attempt to come to an agreement over how to deal with the 2013 spending policies, but as yet no agreement has been reached.

In UK company news, Capital Shopping Centres (LSE: CSCG.L - news) is the sole owner of Xscape Braehead Partnership after acquiring the remaining stake in the company. The FTSE firm has purchased Capital & Regional (LSE: CAL.L - news) 's 50% interest in Xscape Braehead - which owns the family entertainment destination adjacent to its Braehead shopping centre - for a consideration of £4.0m.

A fire has destroyed part of the infrastructure at the Tongon gold mine in Côte d'Ivoire owned by Randgold Resources, the company said Thursday. The FTSE 100 business said the blaze ignited during a planned shutdown for repairs to the No. 1 cyclone feed pipe on December 24th. The fire then spread up into the No.1 cyclone cluster and moved to the No.2 cyclone cluster. No injuries were reported after the fire was fully extinguished but equipment and infrastructure were damaged.

Hansteen has purchased a portfolio of industrial estates for £60m from The Industrial Trust. The investor in UK and continental European real estates will use existing cash resources and debt via a new facility with Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) to pay for the portfolio, which includes 32 estates.