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LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks Index Up As Unemployment Falls

By Preeti Upadhyaya, MarketWatch LONDON (MarketWatch) -- An unexpected drop in U.K. unemployment boosted the stock market Wednesday, while the Bank of England voted in favor of the Funding for Lending Scheme. The FTSE 100 index was up 0.9% at 5,679.11. London's main equities benchmark got a lift from the U.K. unemployment rate, which dropped to 8.1% for the three-month period ending in May, down from 8.3% in the previous period and better than the 8.2% consensus that analysts polled by Factset Research had forecast. The Bank of England voted in favor of boosting asset purchases by 50 billion pounds ($78.2 billion) in what is known as the Funding for Lending Scheme, designed to boost economic activity and the credit supply. The Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to keep the bank's key interest rate unchanged at 0.5%, but are "keeping the door open" to an autumn rate cut, according to a note from analysts at Danske Bank. Weakness in gold futures, down lately about 1%, filtered through to a handful of mining-sector shares traded in London. Precious-metals firm Fresnillo PLC led the FTSE 100 higher, rising 2% after reporting record gold production in the fiscal second quarter. Mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP) rose 1.5%, having reported strong fourth-quarter production results and highlighting a 12th consecutive annual production record from its iron-ore mining operations in Western Australia. Rio Tinto PLC(RIO) was up 0.3%. Metal prices were down overall. Also on the move, shares of investment firm Ashmore Group PLC climbed 2.8% after Goldman Sachs upgraded its rating to buy from neutral. Heavyweight bank HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) slipped 0.2%, as a top compliance executive said Tuesday he would step down in response to an ongoing U.S. government investigation into money laundering. G4S PLC rose 2.5%, rebounding from losses earlier in the week as it grappled with its London Olympics security-contract fiasco. Weighing on the market, RSA Insurance Group PLC rose 0.4% even after saying in a statement that record rains in the U.K. could cost firm around 40 million pounds, or $62.5 million. United Utilities Group PLC fell 0.7%, while Reed Elsevier PLC dropped 2.1% and Hammerson PLC shed 0.5%. Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

Stock News for Bhp Billiton Sp (BBL)
DateTimeHeadline
04/27/201603:56:00Australia Stocks Fall for Third Straight Session
04/26/201600:20:00Caution Reigns in Asia Markets Ahead of BOJ, Fed Meetings
04/25/201606:02:53Statement of Ownership (sc 13g)
04/20/201606:19:21Report of Foreign Issuer (6-k)
04/19/201619:19:00BHP Cuts Iron-Ore Output Target; Plans Petroleum Exploration...
04/19/201618:12:00ADRs End Higher; Mining Firms Rise
04/19/201613:43:00Correction to Rio Tinto Trims Iron-Ore Production Update
04/18/201621:00:00Rio Tinto's Iron-Ore Shipments Fall Sharply
04/18/201604:10:00Oil Prices Fall 5% in Late Asia Trading
04/18/201604:02:00Australia Stocks Pulled Lower by Energy Firms
04/18/201604:01:00Oil Prices Fall 5% in Late Asia Trading -- 3rd Update
04/17/201622:10:00Stocks Fall Sharply in Asia
04/13/201618:26:00ADRs End Higher; Steelmakers, Mining Companies Rise
04/06/201623:50:00Arrium Sucked Down as Australian Steel Industry Sinks
04/06/201602:12:00Fortescue Sees Strong Iron-Ore Shipments Amid Stable Weather...
04/05/201602:33:00Iron-Ore Exports From Australia's Port Hedland Rise in March
03/18/201606:14:36Report of Foreign Issuer (6-k)
03/17/201618:38:00AWE Selects Cue Energy Boss David Biggs as Next CEO
03/17/201603:02:00BHP Shows Renewed Appetite For Deals
03/16/201618:05:00ADRs End Higher; BHP Billiton Rises

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