- The FTSE 100 was stable ahead of the today's Budget where Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to reveal plans on how to help Britain's squeezed households.

The FTSE 100 was trading 0.4% higher at 7,441. Among the blue chip risers were BT (BT.A) and HSBC (HSBA), up 2% and 1.4%, respectively.

Brent crude oil rose 1% to $63.18 per barrel after a reported fall un US crude inventories and on expectations that a production cut would be extended.

Copper was flat at $3.13 per pound and gold nudged 0.3% higher to $1,284 per ounce.


In the US, the stock markets closed in positive territory overnight thanks to a strong performance from tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft. This helped the tech heavy Nasdaq rally 1% to 6,862.

Despite soup maker Campbell's slashing its full year profit forecast, the S&P 500 advanced 0.5% to 2,599.


Travel agent Thomas Cook (TCG) said its gross margin declined by 130 basis points, driven by more competition and higher costs, particularly for holidays to Spain. The bad news overshadowed strong numbers elsewhere, causing the shares to fall 8.8% to 111p.

Software company Sage (SGE) sparked 1.8% to 789p on a 10% jump in full year operating profit to £475m. The software supplier said it expected organic sales to increase 8% over the next year, up from 6.6,% in the year to 30 September 2017.

Utility business United Utilities (UU.) benefitted from regulatory changes, helping to drive a 10% rise in profit in the six months to 30 September. Despite the strong growth, the shares retreated 1.1% to 770p.

Defence tech firm QinetiQ (QQ.) rallied 9.2% to 220p on a positive broker note from Berenberg, which hiked its 'hold' recommendation to a 'buy'.

Food outlet operator SSP (SSPG) reported underlying pre-tax profit soared 38.3% to £148.7m, which was helped by the weaker pound. Shares in SSP fattened 7.9% to 655p.

Events and publishing business Euromoney Institutional Investor (ERM) announced it plans to sell its stake in Dealogic for £102m to Ion Investment and revealed decent full year results. The share price dipped 1.1% to £11.42.

UK housebuilder Countryside Properties (CSP) reported strong customer demand and favourable mortgage lending conditions, causing the shares to advance 1.1% to 343.2p.


Motor retailer Cambria Automobiles (CAMB) accelerated 1.2% to 62.7p after underlying profits rose in the year to 31 August despite a fall in new and used car sales.

Charles Stanley (CAY) warned that regulatory change is expected to drive costs higher, while commission income is anticipated to be lower than expected. The stockbroker services provider said it would either need a higher level of trading activity or other sales increases in the second half to meet expectations. The market overlooked higher pre-tax profits as the stock slumped 5% to 364.8p.

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