FTSE 100 flat after UK government outlines coronavirus response in budget

The blue-chip index stabilised on Wednesday after the UK government outlined its budget for 2020 and how it will respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The FTSE 100 is trading flat on Wednesday after the UK government outlined its budget for the year and laid out its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Over the last two weeks, UK stocks have plummeted due to the spread of COVID-19, with equities and commodity prices fallen sharply as investors risk appetite has diminished due to weaker global growth forecasts.

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The blue-chip index has lost close to 20% of its value over the last 12 days, down over 1400 points during the period. However, the FTSE 100 has remained flat on Wednesday, trading at 5916 as of 15:00 (GMT).

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UK government issues coronavirus response

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his first budget to the House of Commons at 12:30 (GMT) on Wednesday, where he outlined the government’s tax and spending plans for 2020, as well as its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of its budget plans, the government has issued £5 billion in emergency funding to support the National Health Service (NHS) and other public services to help them combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Chancellor also unveiled a £30 billion funding package aimed at helping the UK economy weather the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

‘We are doing everything we can to keep this country and our people healthy and financially secure,’ he told MPs on Wednesday.

Bank of England cuts interest rates

The Bank of England (BoE) has announced an emergency cut to the base interest rate from 0.75% to 0.25% in a bid to help UK businesses and households weather the economic shock caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Indicators of financial market uncertainty have reached extreme levels,' BoE governor Mark Carney said in a press conference on Wednesday morning. 'Though the magnitude of the economic shock from coronavirus is highly uncertain, activity is likely to weaken materially in the UK over coming months.’

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