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UK Shares Seen Lower on US Rate Direction

Britain's FTSE 100 index is seen opening 17 to 18 points lower on Thursday, according to financial bookmakers, having closed down 2.1 points, or 0.03 percent, at 6,087.3 in the previous session.

The UK benchmark index gained 6.8 percent in April, marking its best monthly performance in five years.

U.S. stocks fell overnight after the Federal Reserve trimmed interest rates but left unclear the outlook for further rate cuts, prompting profit-taking as the Standard & Poor's 500 index ended its best month since December 2003. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei Average fell 0.6 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 of top European shares ended up 0.7 percent at 1,337.68 on Wednesday.

"With investors still hungry for further indications on the direction of the market, we expect another day of caution in the UK and the U.S. With some major economic indicators yet to be
released, this will no doubt be an interesting end to the week," said Oliver Stevens, head of dealing at IG Markets.

All eyes will be on U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday.

In the UK, the Bank of England said the scale of losses and the economic fallout from the credit crunch may not be as bad as feared and subprime write-offs could end up costing less than
half market forecasts.