A Budget to boost UK equities

George Osborne provided a welcome boost to United Kingdom equities in spelling out why Britain is walking tall again as he delivered the 2015 Budget.

A Budget to boost UK equities

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While the micro points of detail such as a penny off a pint of beer and freezing fuel duty go down well with voters, it is the macro news that is important to financial markets.

Osborne confidently reeled off forecasts of 2.5% growth in 2015, up from 2.4% predicted in December, with 2.3% to follow for the next three years after that as well.

He was also able to report record levels of employment, claim that Britain’s trade deficit is the lowest it has been for 15 years and predict inflation will stay low throughout 2015.

With UK stocks wobbling recently after the FTSE 100 crossed the 7000 point a few weeks ago, and the ‘too close to call’ election looming large, the strong numbers Osborne revealed served to shore up market confidence in the UK’s economic prospects.

Whether it will be more than a short-lived boost quickly forgotten as the election races nearer is yet to be seen, but there has been an unmistakable lift with the FTSE 100 rallying from the time Osborne stood up in the House of Commons to the market close, finishing the day 107 points up at 6946.

With energy stocks being a big part of the FTSE the news that taxes on oil companies will be trimmed in an effort to provide respite to an industry reeling from the oil price collapse is clearly a good thing for many UK equities fund managers.

Energy and commodities stocks regularly demonstrate an ability to impact sentiment in the UK equities market, dragging the rest of the index with them as they rise or fall.

There is also the broad, multi-pronged push to promote a savings culture through various ISA and saving allowance rule tweaks to consider.

While nothing will change overnight on this front, a greater general saving rates is likely to feed into aggregate demand for equities over the mid and longer term as well as put the UK economy on more solid ground.

“Prolonged growth and lower inflation have admittedly made this a brighter Budget than the Chancellor expected a year ago,” said Neil Williams, Hermes’ group chief economist. “With the UK’s ‘sugar rush’ continuing, equities and conventional gilts should welcome the nudging up of growth projections, and the fact that Osborne is not surrendering the fiscal reins,” he added. 

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