UK stocks roundup: five of the biggest stories this morning

Falling unemployment and upbeat company updates have buoyed the FTSE 100 so far today.


Unemployment has falling in Britain to 5.8% of the working-age population

UK stocks moved higher this morning, with the FTSE 100 rising by around 40 points to 6,660 in early action.

Here are some of the biggest stories this morning.

UK unemployment falls again:UK jobless total fell by 58,000 to 1.91 million in the three months to December, according to the Office for National Statistics. The unemployment rate now stands at 5.8% of the adult working population.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Unanimous Band of England vote to keep rates pegged:Minutes from the January meeting of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)show members voted nine to zeroto hold interest rates at 0.5% in January. That makes it the first time the MPC has voted unanimously on interest rate policy since July 2014.

Pearson tops leader board after upbeat update:Financial Times publisher Pearson (LSE: PSON) cheered investors by flagging a rise in full year earnings thanks in large measure to a reorganisation of the business that has resulted in 4,000 jobs being cut in the last two years.

Pearson said earnings will range between 75 and 80p per share this year versus the 66p per share result last year. Analysts have been forecasting 75p on a consensus basis.

Pearson shares led the FTSE 100 leader board early this morning, rising by 4% or 51p to 1287p.

SABMiller (LSE: SAB), the world's second biggest brewer, revealed a 4% rise in third quarter group revenue despite weakness in China where it has stake in a business boasting the country's top selling beer. Revenue in China, where sales have been hit by poor weather, fell by 4%. Its shares rose 2% or 67p to 3,410p.

Sports Direct (LSE: SPD) shares fell by 4.6% or 35p to 725.5p following media reports after hours yesterday that founder Mike Ashley is selling a 2.6% stake in Sports Direct, worth £117m in a deal with US bank Goldman Sachs.

The sale will cut his stake to 55% and intensify rumours that the Newcastle United owner is preparing to offer cash-strapped Scottish football team Rangers a £10m emergency loan.

Frackers frustrated:In a set-back for fracking in the UK, planning officers have recommended shale gas proposals for two sites in Lancashire should be refused. There was concern about levels of background noise at night and levels of traffic.

Chinese billionaire snaps up stake in Atletico Madrid:Russian and American businessmen have been keen investors in European football clubs in recent years and now it is the turn of their Chinese counterparts it seems, with Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin buying a 20% stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid for £34m.

Jianlin is the founder and head of China's biggest property company Dalian Wanda. The company has been busy snapping up big foreign brands amid a weak domestic real estate market. Other recent acquisitions include US cinema chain AMC and luxury British yachtmaker Sunseeker.

Dalian Wanda is the first Chinese company to invest in a top European football club.

Kam Patel

Kam is a former deputy editor at Hemscott Invest and online editor, City A.M and he was also previously the Digital Editor at IFA Magazine. Kam is currently a senior journalist at The Global Treasurer and contributes to MoneyWeek. Kam shares expertise on the FTSE 100, investing and global stocks.