FTSE 100 market report: Budget goodies lift oil majors

Jessica Morris
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Markets were muted ahead of the Budget (Source: Getty)

Britain's blue-chip index was 0.1 per cent higher this lunchtime as investors digested the chancellor's budget.

Chancellor George Osborne unveiled £1.3bn additional support for the struggling north sea oil and gas industry. He said the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts this will boost production by around 15 per cent.

Crumbling oil prices have made a number of projects unprofitable, leading to less investment and job cuts.

Shares in Royal Dutch Shell were up 1.5 per cent while fellow oil major BP saw its shares jump 1.2 per cent.

Personal finance companies also climbed after the chancellor announced the details of his "saving revolution".

St James's Place jumped 4.2 per cent, while Hargreaves Lansdown was up 3.2 per cent, and shares in Aberdeen Asset Management received a 2.3 per cent lift.

Standard Chartered hit the top of the FTSE 100 risers after analysts gave its new chief executive a thumbs up. The appointment of former JP Morgan boss Bill Winters was announced last month amid a board shake-up.

Elsewhere, shares in chip designer Imagination Technologies slumped as much as 11 per cent to 231p this afternoon, after the company said licensing activity has been a "little muted" since November.

Investors will now turn their eyes towards the US Federal Reserve's policy statement which is due this evening, to see whether the committee has finally lost its patience.

The word "patience" is widely thought to suggest markets have at least two meetings, which occur every six weeks or so, before the Fed raises interest rates. Markets believe there will be a rate hike in June.

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