WEDNESDAY MARKET CLOSE: Isa firm judged to be Budget winner

Shares in fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown surged after Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to merge the cash and stocks and shares ISAs into one new product and raise the annual limit for saving to £15,000.

The shares topped the blue chip risers’ board with a gain of 6 per cent or 81.5p to 1,395.5p.

Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, said: “The Budget had a distinct tilt towards the grey voter, as the often forgotten savers were finally handed a raft of benefits to tackle their dwindling savings returns. Unsurprisingly, companies like Hargreaves Lansdown, who specialise in these sectors, saw shares spike.”

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The wider FTSE 100 Index was down 32.15 points or 0.5 per cent at 6,573.13 as bookmakers and pensions firms were seen as losing out from the latest fiscal statement.

William Hill and Ladbrokes dived by 6 per cent and 13 per cent respectively – to 354.4p and 138.75p – after the Chancellor increased the duty on fixed-odds betting terminals to 25 per cent.

However, Mecca bingo hall owner Rank rose 6.6p to 150.8p, a rise of 5 per cent, after bingo duty was halved to 10 per cent.

Rank, which currently operates 97 clubs, said that as a result of the duty change it would invest in the development of three new clubs and that the future of a number of existing clubs would be secured.

In a quiet session for corporate news, engineering conglomerate Smiths fell sharply after posting a 4 per cent drop in first half underlying pre-tax profits to £215 million as strength in commercial markets was offset by ongoing challenges in the healthcare and defence markets. Shares were down 3 per cent or 46p to 1,305p.

Meanwhile, upgrades from broker UBS helped engine giant Rolls-Royce. Its shares jumped 12p to 1,072p after being switched from “sell” to “buy”.