Date: Tuesday 20 Mar 2012
LONDON (ShareCast) - Wednesday is the big day this week, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, unveils details of the Finance Bill, known to the likes of you and me as 'the Budget'.
After ratings agency Fitch warned last Thursday that there is a slightly better than evens chance that Britain will lose its cherished AAA rating on its sovereign debt, Osborne will be under even more pressure to raise revenue while at the same time juicing the economy.
He also has to keep the Conservative party's coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, happy, so we could see the unusual sight of a Conservative chancellor engaging in a bit of soaking of the rich, so that the government can press ahead with plans to raise the personal tax allowance to £10,000, a key plank of the Liberal Democrats' manifesto.
It was announced last summer that from April the personal allowance is being raised to £8,105, meaning a total of 880,000 earners will be exempt from paying tax
Calls for tax cuts have come from the predictable sources, such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which is looking for a £500m boost to business.
The Chancellor must use this Budget to score the growth and investment policy goals he put forward in his Autumn Statement. We also want to maximise the incentive for businesses to invest in Britain, so were calling on the government to make some targeted changes to the UK tax system, which could make an impact on business decisions and create new opportunities for growth, John Cridland, CBI Director-General believes.
Labour, meanwhile, has called for an unfunded cut to value added tax, or a 3p cut to income tax, which almost certainly means those ideas will go to the very bottom of the list of things Osborne is likely to do.
One of the key areas of speculation is whay Osborne will do about pensions, with speculation rife that tax relief on pension plans for the wealthy will be slashed.
The government is said to be considering cutting tax relief for those who earn £150,000 or over. Cutting pension relief is seen by some as a good option because the amount paid by the government has doubled in a decade, from £17.6bn in 2001-02 to £32.9bn in 2010-11.
Prior to Osborne's big moment in the House of Commons, the minutes from the March meeting of the Bank of England's policy-making committee, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), will be released.
Last month it emerged that there is a difference of views on the committee regarding the Bank's asset purchase programme, also known as quantitative easing (QE). MPC members David Miles and Adam Posen voted in favour of boosting the QE initiative by £75bn to £350bn, rather than the £50bn boost the MPC finally agreed on.
Economists will have their fine-toothed combs at the ready to pore over the report to see whether there are any clues as to future policy on QE, with May seen as the earliest date by which the committee will address the issue of whether to boost the gilts purchasing programme some more.
On the corporate front, Sainsbury is set to give a trading update dovering its fourth quarter. The market is expecting the supermarket chain to report like-for-like sales growth of 2.1%.
INTERIM EX-DIVIDEND DATE
Abcam, Brooks Macdonald Group, Close Brothers Group, Dunelm Group, Galliford Try, Go-Ahead Group, IndigoVision Group, London Finance & Investment Group, NWF Group, Quayle Munro Holdings, Smiths Group, Tristel
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
BoE Interest Rate Minutes (09:30)
Crude Oil Inventories (US) (14:30)
Existing Home Sales (US) (14:00)
MBA Mortgage Applications (US) (11:00)
Empresaria Group, Eurasian Natural Resources Corp., IQE, Ted Baker
SPECIAL EX-DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels
CQS Rig Finance Fund Ltd.
Amino Technologies, Horizonte Minerals, Safestore Holdings, Vision Opportunity China Fund Ltd.
UK ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
Chancellor Budget Statement (12:30)
Public Sector Finances (09:30)
FINAL EX-DIVIDEND DATE
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