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FTSE 100 hits record high, pound slips ahead of BoE verdict

FTSE 100 hits record high, pound slips ahead of BoE verdict

By Pranav Kashyap, Shubham Batra and Khushi Singh

(Reuters) -The UK’s FTSE 100 benchmark stock index scaled new highs on Wednesday following upbeat corporate updates while investors awaited the Bank of England’s interest rate verdict.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.5%, notching a record high of 20,491.99 points.

The index was also supported by a weaker pound, which slipped against the dollar as expectations of a dovish hold from the BoE at Thursday’s monetary policy meeting weighed on the currency.

Money markets are fully pricing in a 25-basis-point rate cut in August, and attach a 40% chance of such a move in June as dovish bets have risen recently following a slowdown in British inflation. [0#BOEWATCH]

“April’s inflation data, released later in the month, is likely to prove critical in any decision. A better than expected number could see July come into play, but if inflation proves stickier than expected there is no rush to cut,” said Jessica Shuman, senior investment specialist at Insight Investment.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca shares advanced 1.2% after the drugmaker said it initiated a worldwide withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine due to a “surplus of available updated vaccines” since the pandemic.

Informa gained 2.3% after the events organiser forecast annual revenue and adjusted operating profit at the upper end of its previous outlook range, and increased its share buyback programme.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index also gained 0.4% to stay around 15-month highs.

John Wood Group rejected a potential 1.42 billion pound ($1.77 billion) buyout proposal from Dubai-based firm Sidara, saying it “undervalued Wood and its future prospects”. The oilfield services and engineering company’s shares climbed 16.9% to the top of the mid-cap index.

OSB Group rose 5.3% after the specialist mortgage lender said it was on track to meet its annual underlying net interest margin forecast.

Bucking the trend, the industrial metals miners index fell 1.2%, leading sectoral declines, after prices of most base metals slipped on a firmer dollar. [MET/L]

The automobiles and parts share index lost 1.1%, pressured by downbeat results and forecast from German automaker BMW.

(Reporting by Pranav Kashyap, Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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