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UK stocks steady as inflation tops 10%

written by Bella Palmer

The FTSE 100 was up 6.38 points, or 0.1%, at 7,542.44 and the FTSE 250 index was up 35.07 points, or 0.2%, at 20,371.48

Stocks were stagnant in morning trade with investors digesting the annual UK inflation rate topping 10% in July, firming up expectations of another interest rate hike from the Bank of England.

On the corporate side, shares in Cineworld plunged after warning of possible shareholder dilution as it tries to bolster its balance sheet following ‘lower levels’ of cinema goers. Balfour Beatty topped the FTSE 250 index after lifting guidance, and Entain shares were hit by a £17 million fine from the UK Gambling Commission.

The FTSE 100 was up 6.38 points, or 0.1%, at 7,542.44. The FTSE 250 index was up 35.07 points, or 0.2%, at 20,371.48. The AIM All-Share index was up just 0.30 at 931.84.

The Cboe UK 100 index was flat at 753.59. The Cboe 250 was up 0.1% at 17,666.15. The Cboe Small Companies was up 0.1% at 14,464.78.

UK inflation accelerated at the fastest pace in 40 years in July, numbers on Wednesday showed, hitting double-digits and heaping more pressure on the Bank of England.

The consumer price index surged 10.1% on an annual basis in July, topping FXStreet-cited market consensus of 9.8% and quickening from 9.4% in June.

According to the Office for National Statistics, it was a fresh high for the annual inflation rate in the current series, which began in January 1997. Modelling would suggest the last time inflation was this red-hot was in 1982, 40 years ago.

The usual culprits of energy bills, mortgage costs and food prices all took the figure up, with prices now rising at five times the rate they were this time last year, AJ Bell analyst Laura Suter commented.

Food inflation reached 12.7% in July, having seen the highest monthly growth in more than 20 years. And there's no option of hunting out food that hasn't risen in price, as costs went up in every category the ONS records, with dairy, bread and cereals seeing the biggest uptick. We've seen swathes of shoppers switching to discount supermarkets or trading down from branded products to own brands, and that will accelerate as food prices continue their climb upwards, she said.

The pound was quoted at $1.2100 early Wednesday in London, flat from $1.2099 late Tuesday. It traded at roughly $1.2120 shortly before the inflation reading, however.

The red-hot inflation figure lifts expectations for another big rate hike by the Bank of England. However, foreign exchange traders also weighed the prospect of slower growth for the UK as a result, meaning sterling struggled to get a boost from the CPI data.


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