UK shares were flat on Thursday, as losses in aerospace and defence stocks offset broader gains across other sectors, while focus remained on US inflation data for clues on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate path.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was flat, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 index was down 0.1% at 0725 GMT. Meanwhile, data showed that the UK’s economy grew more quickly than expected in May, potentially lowering the chances of an August rate cut.

The sterling rose to its highest in four months after the data.

Goldman Sachs raised the country’s GDP growth forecast to 1.2% from 1.1% for the year. Focus is now on the US consumer price index due at 1230 GMT, that could influence the course of rate cuts in the world’s biggest economy.

The data follows Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s two-day Congressional testinomy where he said that the cooling jobs market was now on the radar of Fed’s policymakers, along with inflation.

“Today’s CPI update will determine the market mood. Investors will likely be less upset if they see any bump or blip in inflation as long as other economic data including growth and jobs continue to show further weakness,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst, Swissquote Bank.

Beverages and utilities topped sectoral gains, rising 0.5% each.

Heavyweight precious metal miners advanced 0.1% in tandem with gold prices.

British stocks finish higher on precious miners boost

Gains were offset by aerospace and defence stocks that slipped 0.7%, followed by construction materials companies that were down 0.5%.

Pennon climbed 6.6% to the top of the FTSE 250 index, after the water company named Laura Flowerdew as its new CFO.

Moonpig sank 5.4% to the bottom of the mid-cap index, after the retailer announced a secondary offering of 35 million shares.


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