London Markets: FTSE 100 wobbles as Aviva rises, Admiral falls; BOE statement on tap


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LONDON (MarketWatch) — U.K. stocks wavered Thursday, with a mixed performance for shares of insurers Aviva PLC and Admiral Group PLC, ahead of monetary-policy statements from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank.

The FTSE 100 UKX, +0.16%  was down less than 1 point at 6,917.98. The index on Wednesday finished a choppy trading session by rising 0.4%.

At the bottom of the blue-chip benchmark was Admiral Group ADM, -2.12% losing 2.3% after the car and home insurance company said its 2014 operating profit fell to 355.3 million pounds ($ 544.61 million) from £370.2 million a year ago. Pretax profit decreased by 5% to £350.7 million.

But a 4.8% jump in shares of Aviva PLC AV., +4.70%  pushed the insurer and asset manager to the top of the FTSE 100. Aviva said it’s raising its total dividend for the year to Dec. 31 to 18.1 pence a share, up from 15 pence a share in 2013. Operating profit for the period rose to £1.8 billion, from £1.5 billion in the same period last year.

Investors will watch for a policy statement from the Bank of England at 12 p.m. London time, or 7 a.m. Eastern Time. The central bank is expected to hold its lending rate at a record low of 0.5% and keep its quantitative-easing program unchanged at £375 billion pounds.

For the eurozone, the U.K.’s largest trading partner, the ECB will release a policy statement at 12:45 p.m. London time, or 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time. Officials should provide more details on the bank’s recently announced trillion-euro quantitative-easing program. ECB President Mario Draghi is expected to hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. London time.

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