The pound was little changed by Gordon Brown's tenth Budget, as the currency markets steadied.

This afternoon the dollar stood at 1.7365 to sterling, while the euro was at 1.1982 against the pound.

The Budget was seen largely as a 'safe' call by the chancellor, while details of British growth to date and an optimistic outlook for the economy were balanced by other potential pitfalls.

As is traditional the chancellor kicked off the speech with an appraisal of the current state of the economy, with the prospects for growth largely counteracting concerns over potential brittleness.

Insisting inflation was on target, Mr Brown said that the economy was performing well and had also, significantly, ridden out unforeseen problems to hit the country.

He predicted growth would be between two and 2.5 per cent in 2006-2007 and 2.75 to 3.25 per cent in 2007-2008.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) announced today that monetary policy committee member Richard Lambert, the former editor of the Financial Times, is to become its new director general.