Market overview: FTSE closes down nine points at 6,433
1630: Close The FTSE closed marginally lower on Wednesday following a raft of data and news. The biggest story of the day was of course the Budget, in which the Chancellor announced plans to help those wanting to move up or onto the property ladder. He also slashed beer duty by 1p, promised more help for those needing child care, and increased the personal allowance from April 2014. However, he also revealed that forecasts for 2013 growth have been halved to 0.6 per cent and said the economic recovery had been delayed. Jobless data disappointed, coming in higher than expected and rising for the first time in a year. The FTSE closed down nine points at 6,433.
1450: The FTSE 100 has sunk into the red as traders digest the UK Budget and despite a strong start on Wall Street. The FTSE 100 is down 16 points at 6,426. Osborne revealed estimates that the UK economy is to rise by just 0.6 per cent this year, well below previous estimates. As for the US, the Dow Jones hit a new high of 14,545 in morning trade, before pulling back slightly. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is also once again just a few points off its all-time closing high of 1,565.15, regaining lost ground over the last few days after developments in Cyprus dampened the mood.
1404: Stocks have largely traded sideways since the Chancellor unveiled his Budget with the FTSE 100 up just four points at 6,445. Shares in house-builders and construction stocks are making gains after Osborne revealed plans to boost infrastructure and home ownership. Building materials firm CRH is now among the highest risers on the FTSE 100, while Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey are on the up on the second-tier index. Moves to cut the corporation tax rate and remove stamp duty on AIM and ISDX shares are also providing some support to markets in the UK.
1321: The FTSE 100 is holding on to gains with all eyes on George Osborne in parliament. Among the measures announced so far is a reduction in the corporate tax, tax-free childcare, a cancelled rise in the fuel duty and a 'Help-to-Buy' scheme to aid first-time home buyers.
1302: According to media reports US congressmen have reached a tacit agreement so as to avoid a shut-down on March 27th.
1234: The Chancellor George Osborne has just taken the stand to deliver his Budget Statement. He says that this is a Budget for hard-working people and the government is 'slowly but surely' fixing the economy.
1224: At an event sponsored by Citigroup Vodafone“s Chief Financial Officer has indicated that the company is ready to admit a lower debt rating should it opt to undertake an acquisition, Bloomberg reports. That may say something about the company“s intention to divest its stake in US carrier Verizon Wireless.
1216: A motley assortment of financial sector shares, with insurers, asset managers and high street banks amongst them, is now at the top of the leader board. RBS is flying highest after an upgrade out of analysts at Liberum, to buy. Nomura has upped its target price on shares of Intercontinental Hotels to 2,066p from 1,670p beforehand. FTSE 100 down 5 to 6,436.
1100: Countrywide is 12 per cent higher on the day of its stock market debut.
0937: Minutes of the March MPC meeting have shown that Bank of England policymakers were once again divided on the vote over QE. The MPC voted six-to-three in favour of keeping the asset purchase programme unchanged at 375bn pounds, with Governor Mervyn King once again calling for an increase by 25bn pounds. The decision to keep the Bank Rate unchanged was unanimous. The FTSE 100 is up 180 points at 6,460.
0901: UK stocks have started the session higher, following the resilience shown by US and Asian shares overnight and the fact that the likes of HSBC, Anglo American, Aviva and Intercontinental Hotels all go ex-dividend today. Optimism around the possibility a deal in Cyprus over the next few days is also being cited as a factor behind share gains. Smiths Group is leading on the downside after warning of tough trading conditions ahead. FTSE 100 up 26 to 6,468.