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Britain's FTSE rises as budget gives small help to builders
March 8, 2017 / 2:55 PM / in 8 months

Britain's FTSE rises as budget gives small help to builders

* FTSE 100 up 0.1 pct

* Britain’s budget statement lifts builders

* Banks boosted by US rate hike outlook

* Legal & General falls after results

* Earnings updates support mid caps (Updates after budget statement)

By Kit Rees and Danilo Masoni

LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - UK shares inched up on Wednesday after Britain’s budget statement delivered little surprises but builders got a small boost from reassuring comments on infrastructure spending.

Finance minister Philip Hammond stood behind government plans to boost infrastructure spending as he announced a rise in official growth forecasts for this year.

Last November, the government pledged to spend 23 billion pounds in rail, telecoms and housing infrastructure over the next five years.

The blue chip FTSE 100 index was up 0.1 percent by 1426 GMT after suffering a four-day losing streak, while strong updates from smaller firms lifted mid caps.

The construction and materials index rose 0.7 percent to its highest level since November with shares in construction and civil engineering firm Costain hitting a new record high, up more than 1 percent.

“I think it’s a longer term trend that we are going to see increased investment in infrastructure. But a lot of the policies on infrastructure had already been announced,” said David Stubbs, market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

Banks were in demand with their sectoral index up 1.3 percent. That mirrored gains among U.S. peers after a better-than-expected private sector jobs report cemented expectations for a U.S. rate hike next week.

Elsewhere among top movers, Worldpay rose 4.9 percent after JPMorgan raised its target price on the stock, while insurer Legal & General fell 1.5 percent after reporting results.

Among mid caps, Restaurant Group jumped 9 percent after the firm said that it has put a brake on expansion plans until it is sure that its brand and location strategy is ‘sufficiently robust’.

Inmarsat rallied 8.3 percent after results, and security firm G4S gained 7.3 percent after reporting its first rise in revenue in four years.

Crematorium operator Dignity was the biggest faller, slumping 14.9 percent after cutting guidance. The stock was set to post its biggest one-day loss on record.

The FTSE 250 index was up 0.2 percent. (Reporting by Kit Rees and Danilo Masoni; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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