TMS: Sterling cuts losses as UK raises 2017 growth forecast
LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - British finance minister Philip Hammond announced his tax and spending plans for the year on Wednesday, his first full budget statement since Britain voted to leave the European Union last June.
The independent Office for Budget Responsibility raised its economic growth forecasts for this year but lowered them for subsequent years, and cut the government's projected borrowing and debt levels.
*Sterling had hit a seven-week low of $1.2140 earlier on Wednesday and was trading at $1.2150 just before Hammond started speaking. It more than halved its losses as the Chancellor began speaking, and was last trading at $1.2180.
*Britain's FTSE 100 stock index halved its losses, clawing back ground to trade at 7,326 points, still down 0.2 percent on the day.
*Benchmark 10-year UK gilt yields rose 1 basis point to 1.205 percent.
David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB:
"The pound has risen off its lowest level against the dollar since mid-January after chancellor Philip Hammond has announced upgrades to the GDP forecasts. The UK economy is now expected to grow by 2.0 percent for 2017, up from 1.4 percent in November. Mr. Hammond has also stated that public borrowing will decrease significantly in 2017 to 51.7 billion pounds from the 68 billion seen previously in another development that has caused a mildly positive reaction in sterling." (Reporting by London Markets Team; Editing by Jamie McGeever)