(Alliance News) - Stocks in London are set to open slightly higher on Wednesday, ahead of the release of the Spring budget.

IG says futures indicate the FTSE 100 to open up 6.6 points, 0.1%, at 7,652.76 on Wednesday. The index of London large-caps closed up 5.83 points, 0.1%, at 7,646.16 on Tuesday.

In the UK, focus is on Wednesday's budget. The budget is expected to be announced around 1230 GMT.

On the back of announcing a cut to the main 12% rate of employee national insurance to 10% during the autumn statement, eyes will be on whether Hunt will unveil some more tax cuts.

Hunt is expected to make a 2p cut to national insurance central to his Budget, which he said would deliver "more opportunity and more prosperity".

The chancellor, who has faced pressure from Tory MPs to ease the record-high tax burden, promised "permanent cuts in taxation" that would bring "higher growth" as he seeks to woo voters ahead of this year's general election.

He looks likely to announce a cut in national insurance by a further two percentage points on Wednesday, matching a cut in the autumn statement.

Sterling was quoted at USD1.2706 early Wednesday, lower than USD1.2721 at the London equities close on Tuesday. The euro traded at USD1.0858 early Wednesday, lower than USD1.0866 late Tuesday. Against the yen, the dollar was quoted at JPY149.90, down versus JPY150.12.

In Asia on Wednesday, the Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo was down marginally. In China, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.1%, while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was up 1.5%.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed up 0.1%.

Growth in the Australian economy slowed at the end of 2023, official data showed. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, gross domestic product expanded 0.2% in the final quarter of 2023 from the prior quarter. This was slightly below FXStreet-cited market consensus of 0.3%.

The quarterly growth was led by government spending, which rose 0.6%, and private business investment, which grew 0.7%, the ABS said.

In the US on Tuesday, Wall Street ended lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were both down 1.0%, whilst the Nasdaq Composite lost 1.7%

Gold was quoted at USD2,126.77 an ounce early Wednesday, higher than USD2,125.97 on Tuesday. Brent oil was trading at USD82.31 a barrel early Wednesday, lower than USD82.69 late Tuesday.

Wednesday's economic calendar has a eurozone retail sales reading at 1000 GMT, after a UK construction PMI at 0930 GMT. The Bank of Canada announces its latest interest rate decision at 1445 GMT.

By Sophie Rose, Alliance News senior reporter

Comments and questions to newsroom@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.