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FTSE 100 subdued as UK inflation hits double digits

by jcp
gawdo

By Sruthi Shankar and Johann M Cherian

(Reuters) -UK’s FTSE 100 was muted on Wednesday after data showed inflation hit double digits for the first time in four decades, raising chances of more aggressive moves by the Bank of England (BoE) to tame surging prices.

The blue-chip index slipped 0.04%, still holding near a 10-week peak.

Official figures showed consumer price inflation jumped to a higher-than-expected 10.1% in July, its highest since February 1982, up from an annual rate of 9.4% in June.

Traders have almost fully priced in chances of a half percentage point rate interest hike by the BoE in September.

UK’s banking index rose 0.5%, with Barclays and Natwest gaining about a percent as two-year government bond yield surged to its highest since 2008.

“In the last few weeks there has been better sentiment about the state of the economy and whether we can achieve a soft landing, and I think that has supported financials,” said Kiran Ganesh, multi asset strategist at UBS.

The banking index has rallied almost 25% since hitting the year’s low in March but remains 5.6% away from surpassing 2022 highs.

“We remain constructive on the UK market in a backdrop of high commodity prices, while many large-cap value and defensive names can perform well in the current macro environment,” said Hussain Mehdi, investment strategist at HSBC Asset Management.

Drugmaker GSK slipped 1.3% but stayed above recent lows after the plaintiff in the first lawsuit over the heartburn drug Zantac scheduled to go to trial agreed to drop his case.

The domestically focussed FTSE 250 midcap index slipped 0.2%, easing off two-month highs.

Asos fell 8.4% as the fashion group said its chief financial officer was stepping down.

Infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty jumped 8.6% after posting a 42% rise in underlying operating profit in the first half and announcing a hike in dividend.

Among small cap stocks, Cineworld plunged 41.3% to a record low after the world’s second-largest cinema chain warned that admission levels at its theatres are likely to stay lower than expected until November due to limited film releases.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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