* FTSE 100 up 0.2 pct, BoE keeps rates at 0.5 pct, holds QE
* Banks, commods gain, China trade data eyed
* Retailers lower, HMV results, cold snap worries
By David Brett
LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Banks helped Britain’s top shares rise on Thursday after the Bank of England (BoE) kept interest rates and quantitative easing measures unchanged, while U.S. jobs figures raised hopes that a recovery was under way.
The FTSE 100 .FTSE was up 13.43 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,807.96, eradicating Wednesday's losses, though gains were muted, with some traders speculating that a tightening of monetary policy in China could be imminent.
“Risk appetite has been tempered somewhat ahead of the release of some important Chinese (trade) data tonight,” said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets.
“This has led to some caution that the Chinese may act on monetary policy ahead of the weekend.”
The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5 percent and total asset purchases at 200 billion pounds, shrugging off concerns over rising inflation and the UK’s anaemic growth outlook. [ID:nLAC005797]
New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, and the four-week moving average slipped to a fresh two-year low, bolstering recovery hopes. [ID:nN09222654]
In London, mining shares .FTNMX1770 and energy stocks .FTNMX0530 underpinned blue-chip gains.
Oil major BG Group rose 3.6 percent as it said it expected very low unit costs for the initial development of the Tupi and Guara fields in the Santos Basin, offshore Brazil.
Equities look set to remain a preferred asset class into 2011.
“(Equity) valuations will remain more or less flat, but equities will pay you 3 or 4 percent in dividends,” said portfolio strategist Johannes Jooste of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, part of Bank of America Corp (BAC.N).
“Dividend yield will remain a powerful driver of market performance in the first half of 2011.”
The UK blue-chip index carried a 12-month forward price-to-earnings multiple of 9.8, Thomson Reuters Datastream showed.
Analysts at Credit Suisse argued in a note that some equities were safer than bonds, adding “bonds outflows (four-week moving average) are negative for the first time since 2009, while equity inflows (3-month moving average) are their highest since 2006”.
On the downside, traders said sentiment among retailers was hit after first-half results from HMV HMV.L, which highlighted the cold snap in Britain was undermining Christmas trading.