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Footsie set for a fast start

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UK stocks are set to open firmer despite a mixed showing overnight on US markets.

Spread betting firms indicate the FTSE 100 will open around 17 points higher at 6832.

US stocks were mostly lower overnight, although the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite edged up 4 points (0.1%) to 4.219. In contrast, the Dow Jones shed 65 points (0.4%) at 16,417 while the broader based S&P 500 shed two points (0.1%) at 1,846, after underwhelming results from banking giants Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

In Asia, Hong Kong stocks are on the rise with the Hang Seng index up 200 points (0.9%) at 23,186, but Chinese stocks retreat, with the Shanghai Composite off 22 points (1.1%) at 2,002 on the day the moratorium on new flotations was lifted.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 is off 13 (0.1%) at 15,734.

Back home, William Hill (LON:WMH) issues a full-year trading update with the bookmaker and its peers coming under increasing criticism for stuffing their shops with fixed odds betting machines.

Chief executive Ralph Topping became embroiled this week in a dispute on the social networking site Twitter, after the Daily Mail ran an article about fixed odds betting terminals, entitled "Gambling's crack cocaine".

The market is betting the bookie's pre-tax profits will be little changed from the previous year at £275mln, on turnover of £1.48bn.

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