* L&G and insurers hit by UK pension reforms
* William Hill and Ladbrokes impacted by new tax
* FTSE down 0.4 pct in late session trading
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, March 19 Britain's top equity index
slipped on Wednesday, with insurer Legal & General and
gambling company William Hill slumping as changes
imposed by the UK budget threatened their profits.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which rose 14.4
percent in 2013 and came close to a 13-year high in January, was
down by 0.4 percent, or 24.95 points, at 6,580.33 points in late
British finance minister George Osborne's budget scrapped a
requirement that pensions savings be used to buy an annuity. It
also imposed a tax on certain betting machines. The first hit
Legal & General (L&G), the second William Hill. Both
under-performed the broader market decline.
L&G slid 7.2 percent lower in heavy volume. Rival Aviva
fell 6.7 percent.
"The annuity business was a very solid profit driver for the
insurers, so you might expect to see some profit downgrades,"
said Dafydd Davies, senior trader at Prime Wealth Group.
William Hill dropped by 7 percent and competing gambling
company Ladbrokes dived 13.3 percent after Osborne
announced a new tax on fixed-odds betting terminals.
For HIGHLIGHTS on UK budget see
UK inflation, unemployment and base rates:
LOOKING FOR RECOVERY
The FTSE is down by around 2.5 percent since the start of
2014. However, many traders expect it to recover later this year
and reach a record high of 7,000 points as the UK's economic
recovery continues. The British government's budget watchdog on
Wednesday raised its economist forecast for this year.
"We're still in an uptrend for now. I expect record highs to
come mid-April or early May," said JNF Capital trader Rick
(Additional reporting by Tricia Wright; Editing by Larry King)