FTSE sees gains ahead of Hunt's autumn statement

The FTSE saw tentative gains early Wednesday before Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement, a possible sign of optimism.

The FTSE 100 opened up 13.59 points (0.2%) at 7,495.58. The FTSE 250 rose 67.31 points (0.4%) to 18,414.94, and the AIM All-Share gained 11.15 points (0.2%) at 7,493.14.

Hunt’s 12:30 GMT Commons statement is expected to contain 110 growth measures aiming to revive the economy and Tories’ election chances. Measures may include reduced national insurance rates and a £10 billion tax break for investing companies.

Sage Group surged 10% after the software firm announced double-digit revenue growth and a £350 million share buyback. FY revenue grew 12% to £2.18 billion. Pretax profit dropped 16% to £282 million as operating margin shrunk. The final dividend proposed is 12.75p per share.

Kingfisher dropped 6% after the B&Q owner again cut profit guidance, now expecting £560 million, down from September’s £590 million forecast. It saw a more “resilient” UK DIY market but 8.7% weaker French sales.

Small-cap CRH rose 0.5% as the building materials firm announced a $1.1 billion lime business sale to SigmaRoc and a $2.1 billion US cement acquisition.