By Preeti Upadhyaya, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- An unexpected drop in U.K. unemployment boosted the U.K. stock market on Wednesday, while BHP Billiton PLC moved higher after a well-received earnings report.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.1% at 5,633.33.
The index was lifted by the U.K. unemployment rate dropping to 8.1% for the three-month period ending in May 2012, down 0.2 percentage point from the previous period, and better than analysts polled by Factset's expectations of a 8.2% level.
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.
Precious metals firm Fresnillo PLC led the index higher, rising 2.3% after reporting record gold production in the fiscal second quarter.
Mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP) added 0.6%, after reporting 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) extended losses from the day prior, falling 1%. Metal prices were down overall.
Heavyweight bank HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) slipped 0.8%, as the Head of Group Compliance, David Bagley, Tuesday said he would step down in response to an ongoing U.S. government investigation into money laundering.
G4S PLC rose 2.8%, rebounding from losses earlier in the week as it grappled with its Olympics contract fiasco.
Weighing on the market, RSA Insurance Group PLC dropped 1.1% after saying in a statement that the record rain in the U.K. could cost firm around 40 million pounds, or $62.5 million.
United Utilities Group PLC fell 1.8%. Reed Elsevier PLC dropped 2% and Hammerson PLC shed 0.8%.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 18, 2012 06:51 ET (10:51 GMT)
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