LONDON (Alliance News) – Stocks are called for a flat open on Friday, in a half-day session in London that is the last of 2016, retaining gains made on Thursday when the FTSE 100 index set a fresh record high close.

In early UK company news, retail property investor Hammerson said it is selling a 50% stake in the Watermark development in Southampton to Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Private for GBP48.5 million. GIC is Hammerson’s joint venture partner for the Westquay centre.

IG says futures indicate the FTSE 100 to open 6.46 points lower at 7,113.80. The blue-chip index closed up 0.2%, or 14.18 points, at 7,120.26 on Thursday. This set a record closing high for the second day in a row, supported by a third consecutive day of gains in the price of gold.

The index got closer but again fell short of its intraday record high of 7,129.83.

The gold price increased further overnight, quoted at USD1,160.10 an ounce early on Friday, compared to USD1,155.96 an ounce at the London equities close on Thursday, continuing its gains since the Christmas break.

However, the precious metal’s price remains well short of its 2016 high of USD1,375.01 an ounce and will end the year only slightly higher than it started it.

Brent crude oil also is firm, standing at USD57.13 a barrel early Friday against USD56.38 a barrel at the London close on Friday.

In Asia on Friday, the Japanese Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.2%. In China, the Shanghai Composite ended up 0.2%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong is up 0.9%.

Wall Street ended marginally lower on Thursday, with the Dow 30 and the Nasdaq Composite both down 0.1% and the S&P 500 index flat.

In a thin economic calendar on Friday, the Chicago purchasing managers’ index for December is at 1445 GMT, while the Baker Hughes US oil rig count is at 1800 GMT.

New legal challenges demanding that the UK Parliament has greater control over the Brexit process have been lodged at the High Court, it has been reported.

Four anonymous claimants have joined a judicial review of the government’s European Union withdrawal plans, according to the Guardian.

The claims, lodged in the names of people identified only as W, L, T and B, have been accepted for consideration by the High Court, the newspaper said.

The challenges say Britain will remain in the European Economic Area and the single market after withdrawal. They insist that parliamentary approval, separate from that to begin Brexit negotiations, is needed to quit the EEA.

FTSE 100-listed Hammerson said the Watermark development is located adjacent to the Westquay shopping centre and comprises of 17,000 square metres of leisure and dining space.

Hammerson said the development, which opened earlier this month, brings the total retail and leisure space at Westquay to more than 1.0 million square foot. When fully leased, the scheme should provide stabilised annual income of GBP5.5 million. The development is currently 95% let.

The tenure of the Westquay joint venture between Hammerson and GIC has also been extended and Hammerson said it will receive a fee from the joint venture for the ongoing asset management of the combined centre. The deal is set to complete before the end of December, Hammerson said.

Meanwhile, shareholders of Royal Bank of Scotland are pushing for the company to create a shareholder committee in order to prevent a return to the practices that led the bank’s near-collapse in 2008, the Financial Times reported.

According to the newspaper, around 160 investors, mostly institutions, have proposed that RBS allow shareholders to vote at the next annual general meeting to install the new committee in order to improve corporate governance at RBS.

Chairman of campaigning organisation ShareSoc Mark Northway, said: “One objective is to stop the events that took place at RBS from ever happening again.”

By Daniel Ruiz;

Copyright 2016 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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