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Britain’s FTSE rises off lows after dovish BoE vote, miners weigh

Britain's FTSE rises off lows after dovish BoE vote, miners weighLONDON: Britain’s top share index edged down on Thursday, weighed down by weakness in miners and insurer RSA, though it briefly rallied off lows after a broadly dovish update from the Bank of England.

The FTSE 100 index ended down 5.32 points, or 0.1 percent lower at 6,747.09 points, turning slightly lower after a negative open on Wall Street.

The index had received a boost after fewer than expected Bank of England officials voted for a rate rise, leading investors to bet that borrowing costs will remain at record lows for longer.

The central bank forecast only a slow pick-up in inflation, which now sits at zero.

The Bank of England said one of its policymakers voted to start raising rates, but the other eight appeared in no rush to do so. Most economists taking part in a Reuters poll had expected two members of the Monetary Policy Committee to vote for a rate hike. Some had expected three.

The prospect of continued low interest rates boosted rate-sensitive sectors such as housebuilders and property-related stocks. But they pared gains slightly after BoE Governor Mark Carney later said that the whole MPC was moving closer to a rate hike.

“There had been widespread expectations that two or more members would vote for a hike at this stage….this news was taken as dovish by financial markets,” said Ian Kernohan, Senior Economist at Royal London Asset Management.

“Given that some members see upside risks to the inflation forecast, we still expect the balance of opinion to move in favour of a rate hike before the end of the year.”

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey rose 2.3 percent, making it one of the best-performers on the FTSE 100 and taking it to a new eight-year high. Barratt Developments rose 1.6 percent, also hitting its highest level since 2007. Persimmon rose 1.7 percent to touch a record high.

“Housebuilders were weak on expectations of a quicker rate hike. Now, these are being bought again as a play on rates staying low for longer,” said Atif Latif, director of trading at Guardian Stockbrokers.

“We think concerns regarding rate rises and the likely impact on the sector have been overplayed.”

Top riser was Inmarsat, up 6.7 percent after it said the satellite needed to complete its new Global Xpress network would launch at the end of this month after its rocket partner quickly recovered from a failure in May which upset schedules.

Among other risers, GlaxoSmithKline rose 2.7 percent, boosted by bid speculation.

Commodity prices remained weak, with copper reaching a six-year low, sending miners 1.2 percent lower.

Among other top declines, RSA fell 2.7 percent. Although RSA’s own pretax profit beat expectations, Swiss rival Zurich Insurance, which is interested in bidding for RSA, said it would not overpay for the British insurer.

Other insurers rose, with Old Mutual up 4.9 percent after strong results.

Aviva also benefited from well-received earnings, adding 0.8 percent after posting forecast-beating half-year operating profit.

BP and Anglo American contributed to Thursday’s falls as they traded without the attraction of their latest dividend payouts, down 3 percent and 2.8 percent respectively.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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