FTSE 100 gains slowed by stronger pound, Vodafone slide

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* FTSE 100 up 0.2%, FTSE 250 adds 0.6%

May 17 (Reuters) - UK stocks tracked Asian peers higher on Tuesday, buoyed by hopes that China would ease its COVID-19 restrictions and regulatory scrutiny, although a stronger pound following an upbeat employment report weighed on the export-oriented FTSE 100.

By 0708 GMT, the blue-chip FTSE 100 .FTSE rose 0.2%, but lagged its continental peers.

Britain's unemployment rate fell to its lowest since 1974 in the first quarter of 2022, data showed, but soaring inflation led to the biggest annual fall in real earnings excluding bonuses since 2013.

The pound gained over half a percent, denting shares of global companies such Unilever ULVR.L , AstraZeneca AZN.L and GlaxoSmithKline GSK.L .

British mobile operator Vodafone VOD.L dropped 4.1% as it forecast earnings growth below market expectations for the current year.

On the other hand, Imperial Brands IMB.L jumped 3.9% after reporting a marginal increase in first-half sales, helped by demand for e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

ContourGlobal GLO.L surged 32.9% to top the FTSE midcap index .FTMC after KKR & Co KKR.N agreed to buy the London-listed power generation firm for 1.75 billion pounds ($2.16 billion).
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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