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UK’s main stock indexes were largely flat on Wednesday, as investors maintained a cautious stance over the pace of monetary policy tightening, while Avast surged after it won regulatory approval for NortonLifeLock’s $8.6 billion deal.

Shares of Avast Plc soared 42.7% to an all-time high after Britain’s competition regulator said it has provisionally cleared cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock’s $8.6 billion purchase of its rival.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.05%, while the domestically focussed midcap index gained 0.04%, after a downbeat start to August. Both the indexes, however, clocked strong gains in July, with the FTSE 100 outperforming its global peers so far this year.

“The UK market is a defensive market, so it will tend to outperform in a year like 2022 when there are a lot of uncertainties,” said Thomas Moore, senior investment director at abrdn. “People will still pay for their energy, heating bills; they will buy cigarettes, a bottle of whiskey.

Inflation and interest rates could be a problem for the UK economy, but it is unlikely to be a problem for UK stock market.“ All eyes are on the Bank of England’s meeting on Thursday where policymakers are expected to raise interest rates by 50 basis points after other central banks pushed up borrowing costs sharply in recent weeks, despite the risk of an economic slowdown or a recession.

British services sector activity grew in July at the slowest pace since early 2021 when the country was under a coronavirus lockdown, although there was an easing of surging price pressures, a survey showed.

Global markets remained volatile on Wednesday after a trio of Federal Reserve policymakers signalled on Tuesday that there would be no let-up in the tightening campaign, while investors assessed the fallout of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, which has angered China.

FTSE 100 under pressure

Hiscox tumbled 5.6% after the Lloyd’s of London insurer posted a first-half pretax loss of $107 million, hit by a steep decline in the value of its investment portfolio.

Homebuilder Taylor Wimpey Plc gained 3.7% after it forecast annual operating profit near the top end of market consensus range and maintained volume growth targets for the year.

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