LONDON MARKETS: U.K. Stocks Edge Up After BOE Minutes; BHP Advances

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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By Carla Mozee, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.K. stocks nudged slightly higher Wednesday after minutes from the Bank of England's July meeting showed policy makers unanimously voted to hold interest rates unchanged, and miner BHP Billiton PLC advanced after a solid output update.

The U.K.'sFTSE 100 index turned up 0.3% to 6,816.86. It finished Tuesday's session up 1% at 6,795.34, its highest close in two weeks.

Stocks came out of the red as the Bank of England's minutes from its July 10 meeting were released. All nine members of the bank's Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep the benchmark rate at 0.5% and keep its GBP375 billion-pound ($640 billion) asset-purchase program unchanged. The decision came at a time when policy makers faced criticism for sending mixed signals on the outlook of borrowing costs.

"What was perhaps surprising was that the minutes did not contain any hints from individuals that they were on the brink of voting for tighter policy," said Investec chief economist Phillip Shaw in a note.

Investors have been speculating about when the central bank will make its first rate increase, as the market has recently received a string of solid economic U.K. data. Several economists have projected a rate increase in November.

The pound (GBPUSD) ebbed lower following the minutes, buying $1.7040, compared with $1.7091 ahead of the release.

Elsewhere, shares of BHP Billiton climbed 0.3% after the miner posted iron-ore production of 225 million metric tons for the year through June. That was an increase of 20% on the 12 months prior. BHP in April raised its expectations for full-year iron-ore production to 217 million tons.

Other mining stocks gained as well. Glencore PLC was higher by 0.6% and Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) moved up 0.7%.

European stocks

Meanwhile, the Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.2% to 343.20.

Among national markets, France's CAC 40 index reversed course and rose 0.5% to 4,393.10, and Germany's DAX 30 index gained 0.5% to 9,781.66.

Russia's MICEX index picked up 0.2% to 1,408.37.

Session decliners included Deutsche Bank AG (DB), with shares losing 0.6%. According to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, an examination by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Deutsche Bank's U.S. operations suffer from serious problems, including shoddy financial reporting, inadequate auditing and oversight and weak technology systems.

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This article appears in: US Markets , Economy , Energy , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: 8GC , BBL , BHP , BHP1 , BIL

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