By Preeti Upadhyaya, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.K. stocks made small gains on Thursday, tracking European markets, while investors focused on the minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve meeting the day before, hoping for more stimulus from the agency.
The FTSE 100 traded 0.1% higher at 5,778.67.
Stocks across Europe climbed after minutes from the July 31-August 1 meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve were released Wednesday. The minutes suggested further monetary easing could be on the horizon.
Discouraging manufacturing data out of China released Thursday prompted further calls for more stimulus out of Beijing.
In the U.S., the weekly jobless claims rose by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000 in the week ended Aug. 18, according to the Labor Department.
Mining firms reversed losses from prior days, leading the FTSE into positive territory.
Antofagasta PLC climbed 2.2% and Vedanta Resources PLC traded 1.6% higher.
Xstrata PLC rose 1.1%, as BHP Billiton PLC (BHP) was 0.8% higher.
Anglo American PLC picked up 2%.
Fresnillo PLC jumped 2.3% and Randgold Resources Ltd. added 3.3%.
Metals prices were higher.
Bucking the trend in mining, Petropavlovsk PLC , which trades outside the main index, tumbled 18% after reporting first-half net profit fell 90%. The miner cited high depreciation charges, the effects of foreign exchange and interest expenses on increased net debt.
Kazakhmys PLC was also down 2.1%, after reporting first-half results. It said its performance reflected "lower metal prices and cost pressures."
Oil and gas production firm Tullow Oil PLC was up 1.3%.
Glencore International PLC rose 1.2%. Glencore is in the process of merging with miner Xstrata.
Steel firm Evraz PLC advanced 0.5% after HSBC upgraded it to overweight from neutral.
Moving in the opposite direction, IMI PLC dropped 3.5% after releasing results for the first half of the year. The company reported that the pace of revenue growth is likely to slow in the second half, citing "weakening economic conditions in Europe."
Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) shed 1.6%.
SABMiller PLC dropped 1% after Nomura downgraded the brewer to reduce from neutral.
Also on the move down, National Grid PLC fell 0.9% and Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC lost 1.3%.
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