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London stocks gain on positive earnings; BoE meeting in focus

(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* FTSE 100 rises 0.2%, FTSE 250 adds 0.3%

Feb 4 (Reuters) - British shares rose on Thursday as a set of positive earnings boosted hopes of an economic recovery, with investors looking to Bank of England’s policy meeting later in the day.

The BoE is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate on hold at 0.1% and refrain from a further increase in its bond-buying programme, which has doubled over the past year.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.2%, with travel and mining stocks leading the gains, while the mid-cap index added 0.3%.

BT, Britain’s biggest broadband and mobile operator, climbed 2.7% and was the top gainer on the FTSE 100 index after saying it remained on track for the year.

Britain’s biggest housebuilder Barratt rose 3.1% on a near 2% increase in its first-half pretax profit, benefiting from a rebound in demand.

Oil producing heavy-weight Royal Dutch Shell gained 0.3% after raising its first-quarter dividend, but its fourth-quarter profit dropped 87%, dragged down by continued weak energy consumption.

However, FMCG company Unilever dropped 3.6% even after its fourth-quarter sales growth met estimates, buoyed by strong demand in emerging markets. (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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