FTSE Close: Stocks mixed post-budget; pub and software stocks up, retailers down

The FTSE 100 closed down 12.48 points at 7,469.51 on Wednesday after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn budget gave a boost to pubs but offered caution on economic growth. The FTSE 250 rose 132.54 points to 18,480.17.

Hunt set out 110 growth measures while the Office for Budget Responsibility lowered 2024-25 GDP forecasts to 0.7% and 1.4% from 1.8% and 2.5% previously. Alcohol duties were frozen, lifting pub stocks like Marston’s (+2.6%), Wetherspoon (+1.8%) and Diageo (+1.4%).

The government also announced it may sell NatWest shares within 12 months, sending its stock down 1.3%.

Software firm Sage Group jumped 13% after lifting revenue, margins and dividends. But retailers struggled – Kingfisher dropped 7.0% as the B&Q owner reported a sales decline. Johnson Matthey rose 5.0% on 600 job cuts but upped its profit outlook.

In other moves, C&C gained 3.0% on frozen alcohol taxes. The OBR predicted 2023 inflation at 2.8%, helping lift expectations for Bank of England rate cuts. Hunt said the budget aims to remove planning red tape and boost productivity.