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Commodity-linked gains lift FTSE; fading Ukraine optimism weighs on midcap index

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FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange offices in the City of London, Britain
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By Amal S and Devik Jain

(Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 rose on Wednesday, aided by a jump in commodity-linked shares, while doubts emerging around progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talks weighed on overall sentiment and dragged the midcap index lower.

After falling as much as 0.18%, the blue-chip index closed 0.6% higher, with energy and miners leading gains, while the domestically-focused mid-cap index dropped 1.0%, snapping its three-day winning streak.

Oil majors BP Plc and Shell Plc gained 3% and 4.6%, respectively, as oil prices clawed back heavy losses suffered earlier this week. Shell also got a boost after J.P. Morgan raised its price target. [O/R]

The Kremlin on Wednesday said there was no sign of a breakthrough yet in talks, even as it welcomed the fact that Kyiv has set out its demands to end the conflict in written form.

"The release from the Kremlin this morning that it saw no breakthroughs in peace talks has seriously raised doubts about its proposal to de-escalate," said Stuart Cole, head macro economist at Equiti Capital.

Moscow on Tuesday pledged to cut down on military operations around Kyiv and in northern Ukraine.

Adding to the worries, the widely tracked U.S. 2-year-10-year Treasury yield curve briefly inverted on Tuesday, which is widely viewed as a sign of recession.

"The brief inversion in 2yr-10yr Treasury yields is exacerbating fears that global central bank actions to bear down on inflation will cause a downturn in growth," Cole added.

Further advances were capped by weakness in financials down 1.3%, with Lloyds Banking Group leading losses after RBC double downgraded the stock to "underperform", saying growth drivers did not appear to be "game-changing".

The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 is tracking a sixth straight quarterly gain, buoyed by higher oil and gas prices, while the FTSE 250 is set for its first quarterly decline since March 2020 amid rising concerns about a dent to economic growth because of surging inflation.

Among other stocks, Pearson fell 5.9% to the bottom of FTSE after the education group said it had rejected a third takeover offer from Apollo, valuing it at 6.7 billion pounds ($8.8 billion).

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Amal S in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Subhranshu Sahu)

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