- UK Budget reveals tax cuts
- BoE unanimous on policy, minutes show
- UK unemployment rate unchanged
- EU summit tomorrow to address Crimea
- Fed to announce policy decision
FTSE 100: -0.49%
CAC 40: -0.12%
FTSE MIB: -0.29%
IBEX 35: 0.42%
Stoxx 600: -0.09%
European stocks were mixed after the UK Budget was released and before the Federal Reserve released its policy decision.
Chancellor George Osborne delivered his fifth budget, which revealed a number of tax and spending cuts to boost the economy.
He warned that while Britain was growing at a faster rate than any another advanced economy in the world the recovery was far from assured.
Osborne revealed the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had lifted its forecasts for economic growth to 2.7% this year compared to its earlier estimate of 2.4%. The UK will grow by 2.3% next year, it said.
Osborne added that the OBR sees the Budget deficit falling more than expected this year at 6.6%. He said by 2018-19 annual Budget deficit will disappear, with a move into a small surplus.
However, he noted that the deficit in Britain was "still one of the highest in Europe today so we will take further action to bring it down".
Such actions include boosting job creation, investing in exporters, slashing government spending and cutting taxes to lift consumer expenditure.
BoE meeting minutes, UK jobs
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) released its meeting minutes which showed policymakers were unanimous in keeping the Bank rate and leaving the stock of asset purchases unchanged earlier this month.
Unemployment was thought "quite likely" to fall to 7% during the following few months, minutes of the March 5-6th meeting revealed.
Separately, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the UK unemployment rate remained unchanged in the three months to January at 7.2%. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 7.1%.
Jobless claims count fell by 34,600 in February, beating forecasts for a 25,000 decrease. They fell 33,900 in January.
In the US, the Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting after the close of the European session.
Analysts expect the central bank will slash monthly bond purchases by a further $10bn to $55bn and keep its benchmark rate at 0.25%. The meeting will be followed up with a press conference with Fed Chair Janet Yellen.
EU summit address Crimea
The European Union (EU) is preparing for a two-day summit in Brussels tomorrow to discuss how to tackle the turmoil in Ukraine.
A leaked draft document of the summit read: "In the light of events, the European Council will assess the situation in Europe's Eastern neighbourhood, in particular in Ukraine, and may also address other specific foreign policy issues."
European leaders are said to be divided on how to punish Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine.
Following Sunday's referendum, which saw Crimean locals vote overwhelmingly to join Russia, Putin and other officials signed a treaty accepting the accession, defying sanctions imposed by EU and US leaders yesterday who labelled the vote as illegal.
US Vice President Joe Biden warned Moscow today that it was on a "dark path" to isolation following reports of armed attacks against Ukrainian military personnel by Russian troops in Crimea.
A gauge of insurers, including Legal & General and Aviva, dropped after Osborne scrapped a requirement for British retirees to buy pension annuities.
Airbus jumped following reports it was in talks with China over the purchase of at least 150 of its passenger jets.
Inditex gained after posting 2013 profit in line with analysts' estimates.
BMW edged higher after the carmaker said it predicts pre-tax profit will rise this year.
Ophir Energy slumped after saying it failed to encounter significant hydrocarbons at the Padouck Deep-1 well in Gabon.
Antofagasta was lower after Deutsche Bank downgraded the copper producer to 'sell' from 'hold'.
Brenntag advanced after the largest distributor of chemicals s proposed a three-for-one stock split and announced a dividend payout that exceeded analysts' forecasts.
Barclays rallied following reports the bank plans to sell its index business.
Aurubis climbed as Goldman Sachs added the supplier of precision rolled copper to its conviction list after upgrading it to 'buy' from 'neutral'.
The euro fell 0.14% to $1.3915.
Brent crude futures fell $0.764 to $105.980 per barrel, according to the ICE.