- UK jobless rate rises to 7.2 per cent, above estimates
- MPC votes unanimously to leave policy unchanged
- Ex-div stocks provide a drag on FTSE
- Sports Direct jumps after Q3 update
techMARK 2,855.22 -0.93%
FTSE 100 6,761.33 -0.52%
FTSE 250 16,233.58 -0.66%
UK markets pulled back from a four-week high on Wednesday after data showed an unexpected rise in British unemployment, with a number of heavyweight stocks providing a drag after going ex-dividend.
The FTSE 100 was trading 0.5% lower at 6,761 by midday. The index closed at 6,796.43 on Tuesday, its highest close since January 22nd.
The UK unemployment rate rose to 7.2% in the three months ended in December, from 7.1% in the three months ended November, according to the Office for National Statistics. Analysts were expecting it to remain unchanged.
Some 193,000 jobs were added in the period, well below the reading of 280,000 seen in the previous month and the forecast for 250,000.
The yield on a 10-year benchmark UK Gilt was down 4.2 basis points at 2.703% following the data.
Meanwhile, minutes from the February 5-6th Bank of England meeting showed that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously to leave interest rates at their current record-low level for the 59th month in a row.
The MPC said that while data over the next few months is likely to show that unemployment will reach its 7% threshold, "the Committee judged that a degree of spare capacity remained, concentrated in the labour market".
"Since the minutes of February's MPC meeting confirmed that the Committee is committed to eliminating most of the slack in the economy before tightening policy, the first rise in interest rates still appears to be some way off," said UK Economist Samuel Tombs from Capital Economics.
Over in the States, stock futures were pointing to a weak start on Wall Street ahead of a list of figures from the US housing market, including mortgage applications, building permits and housing starts. Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting are also due out later this evening.
Ex-div stocks weigh, Sports Direct jumps
Ex-dividend stock were leading the downside on the FTSE 100 in morning trade, including Barclays, AstraZeneca, Reckitt Benckiser, Carnival and GlaxoSmithKline.
Sports retailer Sports Direct International rose strongly this morning after reporting that group sales in the third quarter to January 26th rose 11.2% year-on-year to £655.4m. Gross profit gained 14.6% to £280.7m during the period with growth across all its divisions including Sports Retail, Brands and Premium Lifestyle.
High Street peer Marks & Spencer was also higher after analysts at Jefferies upgraded their rating from 'hold' to 'buy', saying it is "one of the cheapest stocks in our sector, yet offers one of the highest total shareholder returns".
Aerospace engineer Rolls-Roycewas a high riser as it continues to recover from heavy falls last Thursday as it shocked the market with its first profit warning in a decade.
International paper and packaging group Mondi edged higher after saying it expects underlying profits for 2013 to be above the €574m reported in 2012.
Defence company BAE systems advanced after saying it has finally signed a price escalation agreement with the Saudi Arabia government over the supply of Typhoon fighter jets to the country.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Sports Direct International (SPD) 761.00p +6.28%
Fresnillo (FRES) 989.00p +2.17%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 996.50p +2.05%
Smiths Group (SMIN) 1,417.00p +1.14%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 4,829.00p +1.03%
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 501.00p +0.95%
Admiral Group (ADM) 1,480.00p +0.95%
Capita (CPI) 1,084.00p +0.84%
Mondi (MNDI) 1,043.00p +0.77%
Royal Mail (RMG) 601.50p +0.75%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
AstraZeneca (AZN) 3,968.50p -3.03%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 1,318.00p -2.15%
BT Group (BT.A) 409.50p -2.06%
Carnival (CCL) 2,476.00p -1.82%
Persimmon (PSN) 1,419.00p -1.73%
Barclays (BARC) 257.00p -1.65%
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) 1,663.50p -1.60%
Imperial Tobacco Group (IMT) 2,366.00p -1.58%
ITV (ITV) 207.40p -1.52%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 4,912.00p -1.46%
FTSE 250 - Risers
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 279.80p +4.17%
Galliford Try (GFRD) 1,202.00p +3.00%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,403.00p +2.41%
DCC (DCC) 3,074.00p +2.16%
Bank of Georgia Holdings (BGEO) 2,415.00p +1.81%
Morgan Advanced Materials (MGAM) 335.10p +1.55%
Henderson Group (HGG) 241.20p +1.13%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 1,320.00p +0.84%
Merlin Entertainments (MERL) 371.30p +0.65%
International Public Partnerships Ltd. (INPP) 128.10p +0.63%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Catlin Group Ltd. (CGL) 528.50p -4.86%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 162.60p -4.86%
Evraz (EVR) 81.65p -4.78%
Rank Group (RNK) 144.50p -3.67%
Wetherspoon (J.D.) (JDW) 826.00p -3.50%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 566.00p -3.25%
Essar Energy (ESSR) 65.00p -2.99%
RPS Group (RPS) 315.90p -2.83%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 895.00p -2.61%
Thomas Cook Group (TCG) 178.30p -2.46%