UPDATE 1-FTSE 100 flat as grim jobless data offsets energy gains; HSBC slides

Reuters

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    * Unemployment rate edges up to 5.1%
    * HSBC slips as annual profit falls 34%
    * Travel and leisure stocks jump on lockdown exit plan
    * FTSE 100 flat, FTSE 250 adds 0.9%

 (Adds comments, updates prices)
    By Shivani Kumaresan
    Feb 23 (Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 was subdued on Tuesday
as a sharp rise in the unemployment rate to 2016-highs
overshadowed gains in energy and travel-related stocks, while
HSBC dropped after the lender abandoned its long-term
profitability targets.
    The commodity-heavy FTSE 100  .FTSE  was flat by 0921 GMT,
as Britain's jobless rate rose to 5.1% in the last three months
of 2020.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2KT1O3
    The mid-cap FTSE 250  .FTMC , however, gained 0.9%, boosted
by a 2.4% jump in travel and leisure stocks  .FTNMX5750 , a day
after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a map out of the
lockdown for England, although the plan would keep some
businesses shuttered until the summer.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N2KS593
    "We might have a roadmap out of lockdown, but unemployment
is still heading in the wrong direction and things will get
worse before they get better," said Laith Khalaf, a financial
analyst at AJ Bell.
    "A cautious release from social restrictions may forestall a
future lockdown, but it also serves to dampen economic activity
and put jobs under pressure."
    A raft of global stimulus has helped the FTSE 100 recover
about 35% from a coronavirus-driven crash last year, but it has
lagged its European peer on worries about the economic damage
from prolonged lockdowns. More recently, fears of rising
inflation have hit equities worldwide.
    Higher commodity prices boosted shares of BP  BP.L  and
Royal Dutch Shell  RDSa.L  by 2.4% and 0.8%, respectively.  O/R 
    HSBC Holdings Plc  HSBA.L  fell 1.1% after unveiling a
revised strategy, focused mainly on wealth management in Asia as
the COVID-19 crisis pushed the lender's annual profit sharply
lower.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2KT077
    Shares of Holiday Inn-owner InterContinental Hotels  IHG.L 
rose 3.4% on optimism over Britain's lockdown exit plan, despite
posting an annual loss triggered by repeated COVID-19
restrictions and lockdowns.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2KT1JR

 (Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips and Rashmi Aich)
 ((Shivani.Kumaresan@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 8780;))
 
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