UK unemployment unexpectedly rises to 7.2%

The U.K. unemployment rate rose in the three months to December, edging up to 7.2 percent compared with 7.1 percent in the three months to November, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The number was higher than a forecast of 7.1 percent in a Reuters poll, although the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people claiming jobless benefits fell by 27,600 in January.

Indeed, an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent is still down 0.4 percentage points compared to the July to September 2013 period.

(Read more: BoE's Carney unveils 'next phase' of forward guidance )

Investors are not as concerned with the unemployment rate in the U.K. since the revision of the Bank of England's (BoE) forward guidance.

Last summer, Carney said that only once the unemployment rate hit 7 percent would the BoE look to hike interest rates. He predicted that threshold would be reached in 2016, yet the rate had already fallen to 7.1 percent in the three months to November.

(Read more: UK economy records fastest growth in 6 years )

Today's slight increase does bolster the bank's message that there was no need to rush a raise of interest rates.

The BoE left monetary policy unchanged this month and Carney said last week that the bank will only start to increase interest rates when a range of measures suggest the economy is operating at closer to full capacity.

(Read more: 'Absolute core' of UK economy hit by storms )

image: © stephen jones

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