Austerity likely to be a byword for the Budget


GEORGE Osborne takes centre stage on Wednesday to deliver the Budget, which looks set to continue the government’s austerity drive.

The chancellor’s red box is unlikely to contain much cheer, although there may be an increase in the personal tax allowance to around £10,000 and a small dip in corporation tax, perhaps to the 20 per cent mark.

“With the economy in serious danger of suffering ‘triple dip’ recession, the public finances unlikely to have seen any underlying improvement at all in 2012-13,” said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight. “However, game changing moves are likely to be conspicuous by their absence. “

In a busy week for economics, inflation figures tomorrow are likely to show a small increase – from 2.7 per cent to 2.8 per cent – then unemployment figures on Wednesday are forecast to show another drop. Public finance figures will follow on Thursday and are predicted to show the government borrowed another £5bn in February.

Aside from the Budget on Wednesday, the Bank of England will also reveal its minutes from the last rate-setting meeting, while across the pond the Federal Reserve will meet to discuss future monetary policy.

Full-year results are expected today from Ark Therapeutics Group, EKF Diagnostics Holdings, John Laing Infrastructure, LMS Capital, M&C Saatchi and TEG Group while Nanoco Group will give interim figures and Berkeley Group Holdings will update the market.

Tomorrow’s end-of-year results are expected from Bioquell, Cairn Energy, Hydrodec Group, Hydro International, Johnston Press, Mears Group, Source Bioscience, T Clarke, UTV Media and Xaar. J Sainsbury and Spirit Pub Co will also give updates.

On Wednesday Charles Taylor, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, Greggs and IQE will deliver full-year results, while Bowleven, Smiths Group and ASOS will also report.

Thursday’s final reports come from AG Barr, Alliance Pharma, APR Energy, Arbuthnot Banking, Brainjuicer Group, Emis Group, Lamprell, Mecom Group, Next, Premier Farnell, Premier Oil, PV Crystalox Solar, Scisys, Servicepower Technologies, Skyepharma, Sopheon and Ted Baker while United Utilities Group will deliver an update.

Finally, on Friday, Moss Bros Group, Northern Rock Asset Management, Songbird Estates, Stanley Gibbons Group and Tawa are set to give final figures while Imperial Innovations Group and Produce Investments will give interim figures and Euromoney Institutional Investor and Homeserve will give trading updates.