1630: Close UK stocks finished today's busy session in the red as investors digested the Chancellor's Budget statement and UK unemployment figures. Osborne 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. Unemployment remained unchanged in the three months to January at 7.2 per cent. Meanwhile, the OBR predicted the UK will expand by 2.7 per cent this year compared to its earlier estimate of 2.4 per cent. The FTSE closed down 32.15 points at 6,573.13.
1456: Shares of Hargreaves Lansdown are at the top of the leaderboard, possibly after the Chancellor today announced that savers will be allowed to transfer funds back and forth between their cash and stock ISAs. On the other hand, Legal and General is the worst stock now on the top flight index. In his Budget speech Osborne announced a "radical change" to the pension system as a result of which half a million people will no longer have to buy an annuity, Elissa Bayer, Senior Investment Director at Investec Wealth & Investment explains. FTSE 100 down 26 to 6,580.
1430: Bloomberg is citing analysts according to whom there is a rising possibility that Washington will target the assets of several state-owned enterprises as early as this week.
1351: Commenting on today's Budget, Capital Economics points out that: "borrowing is a cumulative 24bn pounds lower across the forecast period than expected in December."
1323: Duty on fixed-odds betting terminals to be lifted to 25p per cent. Bingo duty halved from 20 per cent to 10 per cent. Osborne's announcement is weighing on shares
of William Hill and Ladbrokes. Rank Group stock is now seven per cent higher.
1305: There are reports out and about that MSCI or CME might make a bid for Barclays' IPRS index unit.
1255: Three month copper futures are now down 0.7 per cent to 6,435.25 dollars per metric tonne.
1251: Markets have held on to losses despite upgraded forecasts from the OBR on UK economic growth, announced by George Osborne. The OBR has revised up forecasts for 2014 GDP to 2.7 per cent, up from the December forecast of 2.4 per cent. 2015 estimates have also been lifted, but medium-term forecasts have been lowered. The FTSE 100 is down six points at 6,599.
1108: Following much speculation, MMG Limited has confirmed that it is in discussions with Glencore Xstrata over the multi-billion pound disposal of its Las Bambas copper project in Peru. The Melbourne-listed subsidiary of Chinese state-owned resources giant China Minmetals Nonferrous Metals (CMN) said it is part of a consortium of investors, comprising itself, GUOXIN International Investment Corporation Limited and CITIC Metal Co. No financial information was given. The FTSE 100 is down five points at 6,600.
1101: A draft of tomorrow's meeting of the EU council shows that recent foreign policy events will be under discussion.
1100: Imagination Technologies is leading gains on the FTSE 250 and trying to break above the bearish trend-line dating back from mid-march 2013.
1016: A number of FTSE 100 stocks have gone ex-dividend today, including British Land, Anglo American and InterContinental Hotels. FTSE 250 ex-div stocks today include Dunelm, Go-Ahead, Close Brothers, Ferrexpo, Lancashire Holdings, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels and Moneysupermarket.com.
0930: The UK unemployment rate remained unchanged in the three months to January, at 7.2 per cent, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 7.1 per cent. The claimant count fell by 34,600 in February (consensus: -25,000). Average weekly earnings rose by 1.4 per cent for the three months to January (consensus: 1.2 per cent).
0832: UK stocks have started the day ever so slightly lower ahead of the release of the February employment report, at 09:30, and the Chancellor's Budget, at 12:30. Rolls Royce and Persimmon are in the lead early on after being upgraded to 'buy' at UBS. The Chinese yuan is being closely tracked as the daily fixings continue to edge lower. While it is clear that Beijing wants to squeeze some speculators out of the market it may also be orchestrating at least some slight medium-term weakness. Antofagasta has been downgraded to 'sell' versus 'hold' at Deutsche Bank. EU leaders will meet tomorrow to discuss recent events in Crimea. Obama has called for a G7 meeting to be held on Monday, in the Netherlands. FTSE 100 down 15 to 6,591.