London stocks slip on defence drag, hawkish Fed minutes

By Siddarth S and Khushi Singh

(Reuters) -UK’s FTSE 100 fell for a fifth straight session on Thursday, hurt by a sell-off in defence stocks, while investors remained cautious as hawkish meeting minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve fanned fears of interest rates staying elevated.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 fell 0.6% to over one-month lows, while the domestically focused FTSE 250 dropped 1.2%, also hitting a one-month low.

BAE Systems fell 4.7% after Britain’s biggest defence company said it agreed to buy Ball Corp’s aerospace business for about $5.55 billion in cash.

The aerospace and defence sector index dropped 3.1%, leading sectoral losses.

Meanwhile, the Fed’s July meeting minutes hinted at interest rates remaining higher for longer, as most participants continued to see significant upside risks to inflation, which could require further tightening of monetary policy.

The sell-off in the FTSE 100 continues as recent UK economic data showed strong inflationary pressures, cementing worries that the Bank of England might keep rates elevated for longer.

“The Bank of England’s own numbers show that more interest rate hikes will make almost no difference to inflation in the medium term. But they will of course inflict more pain on consumers and businesses,” said Laith Khalaf, head of investment analysis at AJ Bell.

Precious metal miners fell 1.2%, hovering around seven-year lows, as gold prices touched five-month lows on a stronger dollar and rise in bond yields. [GOL/]

However, industrial metal miners were up 0.9%, leading sectoral gains on a rise in copper prices. [MET/L]

Heavyweight energy stocks rose 0.3% on expectations that Chinese officials will deliver meaningful stimulus. [O/R]

Bank of Georgia gained 13.2%, leading gains among mid-caps, after the company reported higher half-year profit.

Shares of sports-betting and gaming firm Entain Plc fell 4.8% after U.S. peer MGM Resorts launched its own gaming and betting brand.

(Reporting by Siddarth S and Khushi Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Varun H K and Sharon Singleton)