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AstraZeneca drags FTSE 100 lower, Vodafone surges on outlook

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·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians leave and enter the London Stock Exchange in London
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By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Devik Jain

(Reuters) -London's FTSE 100 slipped on Tuesday, weighed down by weaker shares of AstraZeneca and heavyweight consumer staples stocks, although upbeat earnings updates from Vodafone and spirits maker Diageo limited overall declines.

The blue-chip index closed 0.3%, lower, with drugmakers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline down 4.1% and 1.9%, respectively.

Large dollar-earning companies including British American Tobacco, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever fell and were among the biggest drags on the index.

Vodafone jumped 4.8% to top the FTSE 100, as the mobile operator increased its free cash flow outlook after it reported a solid growth in earnings in its first half.

The domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index ended 0.4% lower, shrugging off data that showed the UK economy withstood the end of the government's furlough scheme last month, cementing expectations of an interest rate hike in December.

"We still seem to be caught between two strong counter-forces, a strong earnings season providing the bullish case and a long list of downside risks - most notably inflation and interest rates - which continue to weigh on sentiment," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst, UK & EMEA at OANDA.

"What we did see from the report in relation to October payrolls was encouraging and makes the December BoE meeting very much a live one."

Financial markets have currently priced in a near 100% chance that the Bank of England (BoeE) raise rates to 0.25% from 0.1% in December.

Bogged down by inflationary pressures and supply chain problems, the FTSE 100 has gained just 13.5% this year, underperforming its European and U.S peers.

The focus is now on consumer prices data on Wednesday.

Among other stocks, Diageo added 1.2% as the Johnnie Walker whisky maker forecast double digit sales growth in first half.

Restaurant Group Plc climbed 16.8% after the Wagamama owner raised its annual profit outlook

Land Securities Group gained 3.7%, after UK's largest commercial property firm swung to a half-year profit.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, William Maclean)

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