LONDON (AP) _ Stock prices closed mixed in slow trading Wednesday as buying interest dried up amid uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates and British corporate earnings.

The Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100-share index was down 1.6 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,047.5. The index moved down as much as 8.7 points in the afternoon, but then recovered on the back of early gains on Wall Street. At its best, the index was up 6.4 points at midmorning.

Volume fell to 468.5 million shares from Tuesday's 534.1 million shares.

Dealers said the market had room to fall after its strong rally since the start of the year. But significant buying interest in the futures market for the second day in a row supported the underlying equities, they said.

Share prices have been ''artificially held up all day by the futures,'' said one equity salesman.

British inflation remains a key concern for the market, particularly ahead of Thursday's report on average earnings and Friday's retail price index, dealers said.

The market is bracing for further rises in inflation after Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson signaled that the annual inflation rate would top 7 percent for January.

''We know it's going to be over 7 percent, it's just a question of how much,'' said one trader.