British Shares Rise As Antofagasta Update Boosts Miners

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Miners led Britain's top shares higher in low-volume trade early on Wednesday, with a strong production update from Antofagasta tempting investors to move back into a sector that has lagged the market this year.

* FTSE up 0.3 percent in holiday-thinned trade

* Market shrugs off weak Chinese data

* Reed falls after UBS downgrade, Ex-div

* UK PMIs due at 0828 GMT

* Major European markets closed

Miners led Britain's top shares higher in low-volume trade early on Wednesday, with a strong production update from Antofagasta tempting investors to move back into a sector that has lagged the market this year.

By 0745 GMT, the FTSE 100 climbed 19.53 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,449.65 points in what is expected to be a quiet session, with most European indexes closed for a public holiday.

The Chilean copper miner added 4 percent after it said output production in the first quarter rose almost 13 percent, in what Credit Suisse described as a solid report.

That helped the sector - down 20 percent so far in 2013 - shrug off manufacturing data showing China's economy unexpectedly slowed in April.

PMIs, due at 0828 GMT, are expected to show the British manufacturing sector is still contracting, leaving the door open for a further dose of loose monetary policy.

"UK equities have ticked higher in a light-volume session so far, as traders continue to price in central bank stimulus to support risk assets close to their recent highs," Matt Basi, head of UK sales trading, said.

Expectations of more action from central banks to boost growth, in particular an anticipated European Central Bank interest rate cut on Thursday, has helped the FTSE rally more than 3 percent from mid-April lows.

In bull markets - the FTSE 100 is up more than 20 percent since mid-2012 - London's blue chip index rises 76 percent of the time on the 1st to 3rd of a typical month, according to a technical analyst.

A strong start to May could bode well for the index for the rest on the month. Morgan Stanley Electronic Trading's round-up note said the first session of each of the past ten months has correctly indicated the overall monthly performance.

British engineer Weir fell 0.6 percent after reported fewer orders in its oil and gas division in the first quarter, but kept its full-year revenue growth forecast.

Weir was also one of a batch of UK companies trading without their dividend entitlement including Admiral Group, Barclays, Croda, ITV and Reed Elsevier , which according to Reuters calculations at current market prices shaved 2.91 points off the index.

Reed, down 3.6 percent and the top faller on the FTSE 100, was also weighed upon by a downgrade to "neutral" from "buy" by UBS.

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