FTSE edges up as UK unemployment falls

The FTSE 100 tracked gains on Wall Street as investors were given hope that the US Federal Reserve could pump in more monetary stimulus.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke will deliver further testimony to the US Congress today, having already indicated that more aid to the economy was possible.

Meanwhile UK unemployment dropped by 65,000 in the three months to May to 2.58m, official figures showed.

On London's blue chip index miner Fresnillo, up 3.4 per cent, was the highest climber. The boost came as it reported record gold production levels.

Also in the sector BHP Billiton posted strong growth in iron ore production in the June quarter and said it expects to lift Australian iron ore output by five per cent in 2013. Its stock nudged up by just over one per cent.

Security giant G4S lifted by two per cent after heavy losses triggered by the company's failure to fulfil its government contract to provide security for the London Olympics.

Chief executive Nick Buckles was yesterday grilled by MPs in a bruising encounter in which he admitted the company's handling of the contract had been a shambles.

In the financial sector fund manager Ashmore bounced by 2.6 per cent.

Barclays, which has seen its price hit by the Libor scandal, was flat. Lloyds and RBS saw modest gains.

Insurer RSA dipped by almost one per cent after reporting that claims over incidents caused by the wet weather could cost £50m.

But publisher Reed Elsevier was the biggest loser in early trading, dropping by just over two per cent.

United Utilities was off by 1.5 per cent and property company Hammerson just over one per cent. Interdealer broker Icap slipped by one per cent.

Meanwhile on the FTSE All-share the London Stock Exchange dipped by just over one per cent despite reporting a lift in revenue of 10 per cent to £209.5m in the three months to the end of June.

Across the Atlantic later investors will be focusing on US housing starts data for June.