London pre-open: Stocks seen lower on weak Asian cues
London stocks were set to fall at the open on Friday following a weak session in Asia.
The FTSE 100 was called to open 39 points lower at 7,039, having rallied a day earlier amid an avalanche of earnings.
CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "After a poor start to the week, markets in Europe have pulled off their lows as a consequence of two days of strong company updates, helping to push the Stoxx 600 and FTSE 250 to new record highs.
"The big question today as we come to month end is, will the recovery seen in the past two days be enough to see European markets post their six successive monthly gains? At the moment markets in Europe look set to see a slightly lower open, after another Asia session that has seen stocks slide sharply, despite reports yesterday that suggested Chinese regulators were softening their positioning on regulation, over concerns about the extent of the recent sell-off."
In corporate news, NatWest resumed dividend payments and announced a share buyback as it swung to a half-year profit and released more cash set aside for bad debts as the economic outlook improved.
The bank posted an operating profit before tax of £2.5bn compared with a loss of £770m last year. It released £707m in impairments during the half. A dividend of 3p a share was announced along with a £750m buyback and a pledge to increase annual shareholder distribution to £1bn for the next three years.
Earnings were also out from Pearson, Glencore, British Airways owner IAG and Rightmove, among others.