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London Stocks Fall, Fed's Cautious Stance Weighs on Sentiment

  • AstraZeneca up after upbeat revenue forecast
  • SSP Group falls after H1 EBITDA miss
  • UK CPI due on Wednesday
  • FTSE 100, FTSE 250 down 0.4% each

May 21 (Reuters) - London stocks slipped on Tuesday, tracking weakness in Asian markets as U.S. Federal Reserve officials maintained a cautious stance on inflation, while gains in AstraZeneca limited overall market declines.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 fell 0.4% to 8,386 points and was set for its biggest percentage drop in more than a month. The mid-cap FTSE 250 also dropped 0.4%.

Investor optimism waned as Fed officials on Monday hesitated to declare that inflation is on track to meet the central bank's target. This reticence also nudged commodity prices lower.

Traders also held back from placing big bets ahead of Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey's lecture at the London School of Economics, due later in the day, and domestic consumer prices (CPI) on Wednesday.

"Markets are taking a natural pause ahead of two pretty important events (Nvidia's results and UK CPI) tomorrow," said Ben Laidler, global markets strategist at eToro.

"If we get an inflation miss tomorrow, that will push back the current (interest rate) outlook, which has been a key ingredient for the FTSE rally, and if Nvidia misses, you'd lose a lot of this AI-led momentum, which has almost single-handedly driven the U.S. stocks rally this year."

Nvidia, which reports quarterly results after the bell on Wednesday, is expected to influence the broader markets given the euphoria around artificial intelligence.

GSK was down 1.5% after the drugmaker was sued by an independent Connecticut laboratory that accused it of defrauding the U.S. government and taxpayers by concealing cancer risks in its Zantac drug.

AstraZeneca pushed the pharma sector to the top with a 0.5% gain after the pharmaceuticals giant said it expects to deliver $80 billion in total revenue by 2030.

SSP Group was the top loser on the mid-cap index with a 7.8% drop after the Upper Crust owner reported half-year EBITDA that missed estimates.

Dowlais Group fell 5.5% after the GKN automotive owner warned of lower revenue in 2024.

Reporting by Pranav Kashyap in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K and Eileen Soreng

Source: Reuters

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