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By Muvija M

(Reuters) – UK shares tracked Asian markets lower on Thursday, as worries mounted over a prolonged economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic after the Federal Reserve struck a cautious tone about the U.S. economic recovery.

The FTSE 100 index (FTSE) was 1% lower by 0738 GMT, also weighed by a wave of selling in stocks trading ex-dividend. The midcap bourse (FTMC) was off 0.5%.

Minutes from the Fed’s July 28-29 policy meeting showed policymakers saw the rebound in employment seen in May and June already slowing with additional “substantial improvement” depending on the reopening of businesses.

They warned of a highly uncertain path for recovery from the global health crisis that has hammered economic growth across the world.

“(Fed) minutes are casting a shadow over markets and underline that any recovery is not going to be a straight line of advances,” analyst Neil Wilson said.

On corporate news-driven moves, miner Antofagasta (L:ANTO) fell 5% after posting a plunge in half-year earnings, while InterContinental Hotels (L:IHG) gained 2.5% after a report that French rival Accor (PA:ACCP) had examined a merger with it.

Along with Antofagasta’s results, copper prices falling from a more than one-year high also hammered miners, with Glencore (L:GLEN), Anglo American (L:AAL), BHP (L:BHPB) and Rio Tinto (L:RIO) falling between 2% and 2.4%.

While the FTSE 100 has rebounded from a decade-low hit in March at the height of widespread lockdowns, it is still down 22% from a 2019 peak as concerns over a second wave of COVID-19 infections and the pace of economic recovery persist.

Losses in the midcap index were limited by gains in Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group (L:FRAS) and online electricals retailer AO World (L:AO).

Frasers jumped 10% after it forecast growth of up to 30% in its new financial year, while AO World added 4.3%, inching closer to a six-year high, as it said demand for its products and services continued even after its rivals reopened stores in July.

Infrastructure group John Laing (L:JLG) plummeted 7% after saying it was unlikely to meet its investment target.

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