- The FTSE 100 joined other European markets to surge higher as lunchtime approached, back above the psychologically significant 7,000 level. Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to deliver his Budget at 3pm.

By midday the index of leading UK shares was up 1.7% to 7,058.94, buoyed by strong earnings from banking giant HSBC.


HBSC perked up 5.5% to 638.1p after it posted a better-than-expected 28% rise in third-quarter profit, partly underpinned by cost cutting.

Rio Tinto gained 3.25% to £37.83, despite announcing an agreement it signed two years ago to sell its stake in the Simandou iron ore project in Guinea to Chinalco had lapsed.

The miner said the two companies would work with the Guinean government to 'explore other options to realise value' from the asset.


Flooring retailer Victoria slipped 22.2% to 469.75p after it announced that it expected its margin performance to fall short of market expectations, as it cut prices to win market share.

Aviation service provider Gama Aviation plunged 16.6% to 126.7p on a warning that its full-year performance would fall short of expectations, owing to slow growth at its US air division.

Cosmetics company Warpaint London tumbled 45% to 112.25p, as it warned that challenging trading conditions in the UK would weigh on its annual sales and profits.

Auto retailer Pendragon ticked up 0.6% to 26.4p on announcing that finance director Tim Holden would stand down at the end of March after 11 years with the company to pursue other interests.

He would be replaced by Mark Willis, who was currently chief financial officer of bowling alley operator Ten Entertainment Group.

Energy storage group ITM Power gained 6.2% to 24p after it announced that it expected another year of 'significant' financial progress, with revenues to ramp up in the second half of the year.

Self-storage play Lok'N Store gained 10.2% to 412p as full year results showed double-digit advances in earnings and net asset value per share.

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