George Osborne

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Pound in focus as Osborne prepares to deliver budget

It is going to be a big day for the UK assets with the budget due for release shortly and after this morning’s slightly stronger than expected jobs and wages data. Although Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce few surprises at this budget, certain stocks and/or sectors will be impacted in one way or the other. The pound is also likely to turn volatile should Mr Osborne deliver a surprisingly cautious or surprisingly optimistic economic policy updates. But according to the latest ONS data, the UK economy is not doing too badly for the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits has dropped to the lowest level since April 1975. Added to this, wages are continuing to grow, with earnings including bonuses rising by an above-forecast 2.1% year-over-year in the three months to January, compared to 1.9% previously. It could also be that Brexit risks are overstated, although as my colleague Matt Weller highlighted yesterday, a Telegraph’s poll suggests that there is a clear enthusiasm gap in favour of leaving the EU. But today, traders are likely to put Brexit fears on the backburner and instead concentrate on the budget and then the FOMC statement/press conference later in the day.

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