FTSE 100 rises on rate pause bets; Ascential jumps on $1.7 billion deal

By Khushi Singh and Siddarth S

(Reuters) -The UK’s FTSE 100 ended higher on Monday, as hopes of an interest rate pause by the Bank of England(BoE) at its upcoming policy meeting boosted investor sentiment, while information and analytics firm Ascential jumped on a $1.70 billion deal lifting mid-cap stocks.

The exporter-heavy FTSE 100 closed 0.5% higher, snapping two sessions of declines.

Investors will keenly watch the BoE’s monetary policy meeting on Thursday where the central bank is expected to hold interest rates at a 15-year high of 5.25%.

“A pause from the BoE is likely and it is going to be all about those economic forecasts,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

Recent data has shown a drop in employment levels and further weakness among businesses, cementing hopes for a rate pause.

Money markets are betting on a 94% chance that the BoE will keep rates steady this week.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 climbed 0.9%, hitting more than a one-week high.

Ascential leaped 22.9% to the top of FTSE 250 after the firm said it would sell its digital commerce and consumer research units for a combined enterprise value of 1.4 billion pounds ($1.7 billion).

Rate-sensitive homebuilders’ shares moved 0.7% higher.

Industrial metal miners rose 0.9% tracking base metals prices as stimulus measures from top consumer China bolstered sentiment.

GSK shares gained 1.3% after the drugmaker said its cancer drug Jemperli, when combined with chemotherapy, met the primary goal of overall survival in patients with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer in a late-stage trial.

Pearson shares rose 2.9%, after the education company upgraded its annual adjusted operating profit guidance, boosted by demand for its assessments and qualifications.

Telecom service provider Airtel Africa led gains on the FTSE 100, soaring over 4.6%, as the firm reported higher half-year revenue.

HSBC shares lost 2.3% as Europe’s biggest lender missed market estimates for third-quarter profit, while announcing a new $3 billion share buyback.

(Reporting by Khushi Singh and Siddarth S in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Sohini Goswami and Jonathan Oatis)