* FTSE 100 up 0.2 pct, mid caps up 0.1 pct
* Miners, oil sectors give support
* Hikma rallies after strong earnings beat
* UK unemployment rate falls to lowest since 2005
* Eyes on Fed meeting
(Adds detail, updates prices at close)
By Danilo Masoni and Kit Rees
LONDON, March 15 British shares inched up on
Wednesday, supported by higher commodity stocks and a rally in
drugmaker Hikma following better than expected earnings
growth, but concerns over Brexit continued to dampen the mood.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.2 percent at
its close, 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 spent the majority of the session in negative
territory, ending up just 0.1 percent.
Hikma, however, was the top riser, gaining 8 percent after
the drugmaker posted a 2.4 percent rise in full-year operating
profit on growth in its injectables and branded business, which
offset weakness in its generic drugs.
"Results were ahead driven by blowout injectables. 2017
guidance was in-line at group level and we believe this leaves
upside in injectables," Jefferies analyst James Vane-Tempest
Among commodity stocks, heavyweight miners Antofagasta
and Anglo American 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 almost 3 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 major Royal Dutch Shell rose 0.7 percent.
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni and Kit Rees; Editing by Toby