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LONDON MARKETS: Miners Push U.K. Stocks Lower

By Preeti Upadhyaya, MarketWatch LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Better-than-expected U.K. unemployment data failed to boost the country's benchmark stock index on Wednesday, as losses for heavyweight miners added pressure, tracking most metals prices lower. The FTSE 100 dropped 0.5% to close at 5,833.04, after closing at its highest level since April 2 on Tuesday. The index shortly trimmed losses in morning trade, after the Office for National Statistics reported that the unemployment rate was 8% for the three months to June 2012, down 0.2 percentage points over the quarter. . Meanwhile in the U.K., minutes released by the Bank of England showed that the central bank voted 9-0 to leave key interest rates unchanged in August. In the U.S. data released by the Department of Labor on Wednesday showed that consumer prices remained the same in July, while the Empire State Manufacturing index dropped sharply in August. and Mining firms led the downward trend, with Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. PLC falling 8.5% after releasing results for the first half of the year in which revenue fell 19% and underlying earnings before interest, taxes, dividends and amortization dropped 41%. Chief Executive Felix Vulis said, "ENRC has shown a resilient performance in the first half of 2012, a period characterized by deepening economic uncertainty and declining prices for our key products. In light of these market conditions we have concentrated on controlling our costs and enhancing productivity." Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) eased 3.4% and Anglo American PLC slipped 2.9% while BHP Billiton PLC (BHP) was off 2.3%. Metals prices were mostly lower. JJB Sports PLC plunged 23.7% after Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) said in an earnings statement Tuesday that it would write off its $32.4 million stake in the U.K. sporting goods company. Tobacco companies also added pressure after an Australian law was passed banning almost all branding from cigarette packaging. Imperial Tobacco Group PLC fell 1.7% and British American Tobacco PLC (BTI) was down 0.7%. Vodafone PLC (VOD) slipped 1% after Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded the telecommunications firm to neutral from buy. Moving in the other direction, life insurance firm Resolution Ltd. was up 2.9% after releasing results for the first half of the year. The company announced it would be "simplifying the governance structure" and raised interim dividends by 5%. Standard Chartered PLC was up 4.1% after it announced late Tuesday that it would pay $340 million to settle with New York's Department of Financial Services. Subscribe to WSJ:

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