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FTSE opens flat

The FTSE was hovering around the 4,000 mark this morning ahead of Alistair Darling’s Budget speech.

At 9.44am, the blue chip index stood at 3987.81 with Barclays leading the way having risen by 7.54 per cent. Standard Life, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland have also seen strong returns.

The early gains come as reports surfaced of a bust-up between Labour and the International Monetary Fund late last night after the latter had said that bank rescues could cost taxpayers £200bn. The firm, which oversees the global financial system, has since downgraded the total to just over £130bn, equating to 9.1 per cent of national income.

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