Market Report: With a 50 per cent cut in bingo hall tax, the Chancellor has shown he is a fan

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The Independent Online

Commentators were touting Budget bingo ahead of George Osborne's speech yesterday and it turns out the Chancellor is a fan of the pastime himself.

Mr Osborne is halving the tax rate on bingo halls from 20 per cent to 10 per cent. On the back of the announcement, Mecca Bingo owner Rank revealed plans to open three halls, taking its UK total to 100. Rank added 9.8p to 154p.

The Budget's scrapping of compulsory annuities for pensioners dealt a hammer blow to providers yesterday. One of the worst hit was Partnership Assurance, off 176.2p at 143p, which wasn't helped by poor results earlier in the day.

Life insurers knocked 12.46 points off the FTSE 100 index, which closed down 32.15 points at 6,573.13. Financial adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, up 190p to 1,504p, was among the few winners.

The Government's crackdown on fixed-odds betting machines also hit bookies, with Ladbrokes off 18.6p at 140.4p and William Hill down 25.7p at 351.5p.

Applied Graphene Materials, up 60p at 460p, and Graphene Nanochem, up 3.12p to 100.5p, were boosted by Mr Osborne's name-checking of the next-generation material they both work with.

Away from the Budget, the microchip designer Imagination Technologies soared after UBS gave it a buy rating and the firm unveiled its new Wizard family of graphics chips. The Apple supplier jumped 16.5p to 180.7p.

Ophir Energy, down 43.7p to 251.7p, had bad news as the African-focused oil firm revealed it had plugged its Padouk Deep-1 well off the coast of Gabon after it came up dry.

The stabilising plan at Cape is going well. The company, which provides items such as insulation and linings for industrial plants and engineers, managed to reverse losses and make a profit of £200,000 last year. But investors were hoping for more and the company fell 15.25p to 305p.

Aim-listed Gulf Keystone Petroleum plans to raise up to $250m (£150m) through a debt offering to help it hit targets for oil production in Iraq. It follows news that reserves at the Shaikan site are lower than expected. Gulf, which hopes to move to the full list next week, was down 7.75p to 109.75p.