FTSE up as Osborne prepares to deliver Budget

THE TOP share index ticked up in early deals, as Chancellor George Osborne prepares to deliver his austerity Budget.
Fresh optimism that a deal could be struck over a bailout for Cyprus also pushed the FTSE 100 up this morning, as the index yesterday sustained losses for three straight gains for the first time since November.
Investors took solace that a levy on bank deposits proposed for a Cyprus bailout deal was rejected by lawmakers last night.
In early trading, the FTSE 100 rose 0.5 per cent.

Insurer RSA topped the FTSE, up 2.3 per cent, while supermarketSainsbury’s was up 1.75 per cent. Yesterday it posted better-than-expected fourth quarter sales after a bumper performance from its online arm and convenience stores.

Miners Vedanta and Polymetal were up 1.9 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum, it was a tale of two insurers as Aviva fell 2.2 per cent.

Education giant Pearson fell 1.5 per cent, while natural resources and energy shares also felt the heat. 

Russian steelmaker Evraz was down one per cent and energy giant Centrica fell 0.8 per cent. 

Kazakh-focused miner Eurasian Natural Resources was off 0.8 per cent, as a $1.5bn impairment charges because of weak aluminium prices dragged the business to a loss for 2012.

UK banks were in mainly positive territory. HSBC was up 0.2 per cent, RBS rose 1.5 per cent and Barclays added 0.7 per cent. Lloyds Banking Group was the only faller, shedding 0.1 per cent.