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By Shashank Nayar
(Reuters) -The UK's blue-chip FTSE-100 index was little changed on Thursday, coming under pressure from a stronger pound after the Bank of England said the case for higher interest rates had strengthened.
The internationally focussed FTSE-100 ended down 0.07% after having gained as much as 0.7% earlier in the session as the dollar earners in the index took a hit from sterling's strong gains. [GBP/]
The domestically focussed mid-cap index climbed 0.2%. Both UK indexes lagged a broader rally in European markets on easing concerns about cash-strapped developer China Evergrande. [MKTS/GLOB]
The BoE nudged up its forecast for inflation at the end of the year to over 4%, more than twice its target rate. While the central bank expects the overshoot to be temporary, two policymakers called for an immediate halt to the 895 billion pound ($1.23 trillion) bond purchase programme.
"Looking ahead, we expect the Bank of England to be the first major central bank to achieve interest rate lift-off in the first half of next year," Ambrose Crofton, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it would likely begin reducing its monthly bond purchases as soon as November and signalled interest rate increases might follow more quickly than expected.
Rate-sensitive banking stocks such as Barclays, Standard Chartered and Natwest Group rose between 0.8% and 1.5%, helped by a jump in benchmark bond yields.
Aero engine and automobile maker Rolls-Royce jumped 3.5% to a six-month high and was the top FTSE 100 gainer after Berenberg raised its target price.
London-listed shares of South Africa-based financial services group Investec gained 3.4% after it said it expected an up to 114% rise in half-year profits.
Britain's Mitchells & Butlers Plc rose 1.8% after it said sales over the past two months had been above pre-pandemic levels.
(Reporting by Shashank Nayar and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra and Bernadette Baum)