(Corrects bullet point and fifth para to show jobless rate is
lowest since 2005, not 1975)
* FTSE 100 up 0.2 pct, mid caps down 0.3 pct
* Miners, oil sectors give biggest support
* Hikma rallies after strong earnings beat
* UK unemployment rate falls to lowest since 2005
* Eyes on Fed meeting
By Danilo Masoni
MILAN, March 15 British shares inched up on
Wednesday, supported by higher commodity stocks and rally in
drugmaker Hikma following better than expected earnings
growth, but concerns over Brexit continued to dampen the mood.
The blue-chip index FTSE 100 index rose 0.2 percent
by 1009 GMT, recovering losses made in the previous session when
banks fell on concerns over the imminent triggering of talks to
leave the European Union. In spite of the bounce, concerns over
Brexit kept investors cautious.
"Traders remain sellers on rallies as the Brexit
uncertainties weigh on the sentiment," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya
Senior Market Analyst at London Capital Group.
While markets were focusing on the outcomes of the U.S.
Federal Reserve rate-setting meeting and the Dutch general
election, investors in Britain also paid attention to data on
the labour market released earlier in the day.
UK unemployment fell unexpectedly to its lowest for more
than a decade in the three months to January but pay growth
worsened in an unpromising sign for the economy before Britain
leaves the European Union.
The figures weighed on sterling, helping the FTSE slightly
extend gains, but the more domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250
index remained in negative territory, down 0.3 percent.
Among commodity stocks, heavyweight miners Rio Tinto
and BHP Billiton rose on the back of rising copper
prices, although traders stayed on the sidelines ahead of the
interest rate decision in the United States which may spark
volatility in the dollar.
Glencore gained 2.1 percent, further supported by
an upgrade from Goldman Sachs to "buy" from "neutral".
Oil stocks were boosted after crude prices rebounded from
three-month lows following industry data showing a surprise
drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles and as Goldman Sachs put a
positive spin on OPEC's compliance with output cuts.
Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell rose 1.1
and 0.7 percent, respectively.
Top FTSE gainer Hikma rose 7.6 percent after it posted a 2.4
percent rise in full-year operating profit on growth in its
injectables and branded business, which offset weakness in its
"Results were ahead driven by blowout injectables. 2017
guidance was in-line at group level and we believe this leaves
upside in injectables," said Jefferies analyst James
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Jon Boyle)