UPDATE 2-London stocks end lower, Ascential jumps on upbeat forecast


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      Ascential tops FTSE midcap index 

      Airline stocks jump on EasyJet results

      Aviva rises as it maintains dividend

      UK factories cut prices in December 

      FTSE 100 down 0.2%, FTSE 250 off 0.3%

 (Updates to market close)
    By Sruthi Shankar and Shristi  Achar A
       Jan 25 (Reuters) - The UK's main stock indexes closed in
the red on Wednesday, retreating after an upbeat start to the
day as a bleak outlook from technology bellwether Microsoft hit
sentiment, while     Ascential surged on a positive full-year
    The blue-chip FTSE 100  .FTSE  eased 0.2% to a two-week low
and the midcap FTSE 250 index  .FTMC  fell 0.3%. 
    Pessimism spilt over from Wall Street after Microsoft Corp
 MSFT.O  warned that growth in its lucrative cloud business
could stall, hitting tech stocks globally.  
    "If someone like Microsoft is really suffering, with a
cautious outlook, plus all those layoffs that are still coming
through, it is enough to dampen down any appetite to push this
rally further," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG
    While the UK's main equity indexes kicked off 2023 on an
upbeat note with the FTSE 100 flirting with record levels,
worries about Britain's gloomy economic outlook and further
interest rate rises have weighed on sentiment since. 
    Money markets are expecting a 77.1% chance of a 50 basis
point hike from the Bank of England next week.  0#BOEWATCH 
    The BoE may welcome data showing Britain's manufacturers
unexpectedly reduced their prices in December as it weighs how
much higher it needs to lift interest rates.
    Events and analytics firm Ascential Plc  ASCL.L  bucked the
broader trend, jumping 26.0% for its best day in more than two
years after forecasting full-year EBITDA at the top end of
market expectations. 
    EasyJet  EZJ.L  also jumped, by 9.7% to mark its biggest one
day percentage gain since March 2022, as the airline indicated
it expected to beat market expectations for 2023 on strong
bookings into summer.
    Ryanair  RYA.I  added 2.3% and British Airways parent IAG
 ICAG.L  rose 2.0% to its highest since February 2022.
    Insurer Aviva  AV.L  gained 3.3% after maintaining its
dividend guidance and capital returns outlook, and pub operator 
J D Wetherspoon  JDW.L  dropped 6.1% after saying it was
"cautiously optimistic" about this financial year.
 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru;
editing by Uttaresh.V and Rashmi Aich, Kirsten Donovan)
 ((sruthi.shankar@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223
8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2787;
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 Market digest:       .AD.L           Top 10 by vol:      .AV.L  
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