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FTSE 100 rises on dovish BoE; miners, pharma stocks lead gains

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By Reuters
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By Shashank Nayar and Amal S

-Britain’s FTSE 100 rose on Thursday, led by mining and healthcare-related stocks as the Bank of England kept its crisis-era monetary policy unchanged, while cruise operator Carnival fell after a quarterly loss of over $2 billion.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended up 0.6%, with drugmaker AstraZeneca and miners Anglo American, Rio Tinto and BHP Group providing the biggest boost to the index.

The mid-cap FTSE 250, on the other hand, dropped 0.5% following disappointing half-yearly results from engineering and consultancy company Wood Plc that sent its own shares tumbling 8.9% to an over one-year low.

The export-heavy FTSE 100 is on course to post its fifth straight monthly gain on the back of a steady economic recovery, but recent signs of a jump in inflation and a hawkish tone by U.S. Fed towards monetary policies have sparked fears central banks could raise interest rates sooner than expected.

On Thursday, the Bank of England kept its benchmark interest rate at an all-time low of 0.1%, but warned inflation would surpass 3%, well above its target of 2%, as the economy reopens from coronavirus-related lockdowns.

“As inflation prints continue to come in higher than the central bank’s forecasts anticipate, pressure will increasingly grow to begin on its path to more normal policy,” said Ambrose Crofton, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“All this suggests the bank may end up having to withdraw support more quickly than its international peers.”

Base and precious metal miners, rose 1.7% and 0.1%, respectively and were the top sectoral gainers.

A rally in homebuilders fizzled out despite upbeat half-yearly earnings from Crest Nicholson Holdings Plc.

Carnival Corp fell 1.5% after the cruise operator reported a quarterly loss of more than $2 billion as a 15-month-long suspension of voyages due to the COVID-19 pandemic hammered its business.