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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

This week's roundup includes weak mining stocks pulling the FTSE 100 lower, a profits increase for Legal & General, calls for some women to access their state pensions early and a warning of further cuts in this week's Budget.


Weak mining stocks pull FTSE 100 lower

The FTSE 100 was pulled lower on Tuesday following a drop in the shares of a number of major mining companies. A weakening in copper prices resulted in drops for miners including BHP Billiton and Anglo American, while the cancellation of Antofagasta's final dividend hit shares in the Chilean mining firm.

The UK index was also impacted by a fall in Asian stocks, which followed the Bank of Japan offering a gloomy economic outlook as it sought to keep its monetary policy steady. This meant that in early trading the FTSE 100 was down 0.7% at 6,131.19 points.

Following this latest tumble, the index is now down by around 2% since the start of the year. It is also 14% down on the record highs posted in April 2015. 

Legal & General reports 14% operating profits climb

Insurer Legal & General has reported a 14% profits increase for 2015, with the company stating it had "delivered excellent growth in cash, profits and dividends" over the year. Operating profit climbed to £1.46 billion compared to the £1.28 billion posted a year earlier.

Net cash also rose to £1.26 billion from the £1.1 billion recorded in 2014, while adjusted earnings per share edged up 11%, increasing from 16.70p in 2014 to 18.58p in 2015.

Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive, said: "We have a robust business model which has proved to be adept and resilient in dealing with fiscal and regulatory changes in our sector."

Despite the announcement, shares in Legal and General were down 4.7% in early trading on Tuesday after it revealed a solvency capital ratio of 169%, which was below the expectation of some analysts. 

MPs call for early state pension access for women

A committee of MPs has called on the government to consider granting some women early access to their state pensions. The proposal would involve them accepting lower weekly payments and concerns thousands of women who believe they were not adequately warned about the pension age being raised from 60 to 66 by 2020.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee said the plan could work because it would not cost the Treasury anything extra to implement. Around 500,000 women who were born in the 1950s have seen a six-year rise in the age they can claim their pension, and ministers are coming under increasing pressure to help them with the transition. 

Chancellor warns of further cuts in Budget

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announces his budget today (March 16), and has already warned of further cuts. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Osborne warned of the current uncertainty concerning the world economy and said the UK needs to make sure it is living within its means, saying it needs to act now rather than pay later.

Regarding the proposed cuts, he claimed they would be equivalent to 50p in every £100 of public spending by 2020. He said this figure was "not a huge amount in the scheme of things".