By Dow Jones Business News, February 20, 2013, 05:27:00 AM EDT
By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.K.'s benchmark stock index rose on Wednesday after a report showed more members from the
Bank of England supported an increase in asset purchases, while BHP Billiton added pressure after a lackluster earnings
The FTSE 100 index gained 0.3% to 6,400.96, adding to a 1% advance from Tuesday, when the index closed at the highest
level since January 2008.
Shares of BHP Billiton PLC ( BHP ) weighed on the index, off 2.4%, after the heavyweight miner reported a 58% drop in
half-year profit. The company further said Chief Executive Marius Kloppers will retire in May, with Andrew Mackenzie
succeeding as the new boss.
Shares of peer Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) dropped 1.6%. Metals prices were mostly lower.
RSA Insurance Group PLC dropped 13% after the firm said it would cut its dividend for 2013 after posting a drop in
2012 operating profit. The report stemmed partly from earthquakes in Italy and wet weather in the U.K.
On an upbeat note, the broader U.K. market ticked higher after minutes from the Bank of England's latest policy
meeting showed the members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted 6-3 to leave the central bank's asset-purchase program
unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($579 billion).
Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King and MPC members David Miles and Paul Fisher dissented, calling for a GBP25 billion
increase. At the January meeting 8 members voted in favor of keeping the program unchanged.
Oil firms were on the move higher, as oil prices picked up. BP PLC (BP) gained 0.6%, Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB)
rose 0.5% and BG Group PLC picked up 0.5%.
Some banks were also on the rise. Shares of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS) put on 2.2% and Lloyds Banking
Group PLC ( LYG ) gained 0.9%.
Barclays PLC , however, slipped 0.1% as Goldman Sachs cut the bank to neutral from buy.
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