Good morning and welcome to IBTimes UK coverage of the Autumn Budget. Philip Hammond will today deliver the first Autumn Budget in 21 years, which could also be the penultimate budget before Brexit, if the Chancellor keeps his promise to stick to one major fiscal event a year.
Here is what to look for in Hammond's speech:
- The Office for Budget Responsibility is expected to downgrade the 2% GDP growth it was expecting for 2017 back in March to around 1.5%, while growth expectations for the next four years are also likely to be lowered.
- Hammmond is widely expected to unveil plans to build 300,000 homes per year, up from the current 250,000.
- The Chancellor is also set to announce plans to extend railcards offering discounted train travel to people up to 30 years old.
- A £1bn plan to boost technology in driverless cars as well as other areas, including artificial intelligence and 5G is also set to feature in the speech.
- Britain's is on course to be at least £6bn smaller than forecast in March, meaning Hammond could opt to introduce tax hikes to raise funds.
FTSE and pound steady ahead of Budget
The UK markets are fairly quiet this morning, with the eyes of investors firmly focused on Philip Hammond. The FTSE 100 index is 0.3% higher to 7,431 points, while sterling is up 0.1% against the dollar to $1.3245 and 0.1% lower against the euro, fetching €1.1267.
"Investors have been looking at the budget as the key driver for sterling this week, with political analysts speculating on Hammond's future based on what he announces today," said William Anderson Jones, head of UK Corporate Dealing at RationalFX.
"Traders will be watching closely at the pound's movements, and how it will react to the economic and political outcome of the budget."
How has the UK economy done so far?
In October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that Britain's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.5% year-on-year in the third quarter, compared with 2.3% 12 months ago.
However, last week, retail sales posted their first annual decline since 2013, while wages are persistently behind inflation, which has held at the highest rate in over five years over the last two months.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is expected to downgrade the 2% GDP growth it was expecting for 2017 back in March to around 1.5%, while growth expectations for the next four years are also likely to be lowered.
What to expect from the budget
A lot has changed in the eight months since Hammond delivered the last ever Spring Budget. Theresa May called a surprise General Election, which only succeeded in undermining her leadership after the Conservative Party failed to gain an overall majority, while Brexit negotiations have encountered a host of stumbling blocks.
Hammond himself has come under fire from within his own party for suggesting Britain should adopt a transitional period once it leaves the European Union, which makes his task today even trickier.
"The Chancellor is trying to hang onto his job as some high profile Brexiteers' would love to see one of their own at the helm of the Treasury," said Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index.
"Thus, the Chancellor needs to make sure he does enough to stay at Number 11 Downing Street while at the same time trying to make sure it's his policies, not his performance that grabs the headlines.
Here is all you need to know ahead of today.