LONDON -- Turnover in the last hour of London trading ground to a halt as investors, brokers, market makers and taxi drivers diverted their attention to the Budget. As the market closed, Chancellor Gordon Brown finished speaking, but it was too late to start trading again so any reaction will have to wait until Wednesday.

The

FTSE 100

ended the session just 6.6 points, or 0.1%, lower at 6617.9, having been 81 points down at one stage on investment inertia.

For most of the day there was plenty of action in the technology sector, with Nasdaq's fall Monday causing palpitations. The

Techmark

index of leading tech stocks was at one point down 363 points, or 6.5%, to 4511.0, but staged a partial rally to close 291.2 points down, or 6.0% lower, at 4583.7.

Baltimore Technologies

at one point collapsed 24.50 pounds, or 23.5%, to 79.00 pounds ($124.03), before closing down 13.28 pounds, or 12.8%, at 90.23 pounds,

Psion

fared little better. It slid 509p, or 9.5%, to 48.87 pounds. Other casualties included

JSB Software

down 575p, or 19.2%, to 24.25 pounds, and

ARM Holdings

(ARMHY)

423p lower, or 10.0%, at 37.99 pounds.

Lastminute.com

took a predictable tumble, closing down 62.5p, or 18.3%, to 320 as small investors decided that enough was enough. The shares touched a high of 562.5 last week, but are now 60p below the offer price. Turnover amounted to 1.64 million shares today.

There was also pain in the biotech sector, where

Oxford Glycoscience

slid 550p, or 25.5%, to 16.57 pounds, and

Cambridge Antibody

lost 377p, or 12.4%, to 26.47 pounds.

After a choppy start, there was some interest in the pharmaceutical sector.

Glaxo Wellcome

(GLX)

rose 74p, or 4.1%, to 18.60 pounds, while

SmithKline Beecham

(SBH) - Get Report

rose 14.5p, or 1.9%, to 848.

Astra Zeneca

advanced 94p, or 3.6%, to 26.98 pounds.

Oil stocks shrugged off early worries about a possible rise in production levels after the forthcoming meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, with

BP Amoco

(BPA)

rising 6p, or 1.1%, to 548.5 and

Shell

(SC) - Get Report

18p higher, or 3.6%, at 517.

Most of Europe's other stock markets closed lower, with the

Xetra Dax

in Frankfurt closing down 64.45, or 0.8%, at 7807.93 and the

CAC 40

in Paris finishing off 31.64, or 0.5%, at 6320.87.

German technology stocks that made gains Monday fell prey to widespread profit-taking.

Siemens

(SMAWY)

fell 5.24 euros, or 3%, to 170 ($165.43) and

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

dropped 59.80 euros, or 6.2%, to 910.

Around the Continent investors also decided to sell telecoms, with

Deutsche Telekom

(DT) - Get Report

falling 2.31 euros, or 2.5%, to 88.99,

France Telecom

(FTE)

dipping 6.90 euros, or 3.6%, to 185.30 and

Alcatel

(ALA)

off 1.60 euros, or 0.7%, at 232.60.

Old Economy issues in Frankfurt such as carmakers, however, were able to buck the negative trend.

BMW

climbed 2.40 euros, or 7.8%, to 33.10 and

DaimlerChrysler

(DCX)

closed up 0.40 euros, or 0.6%, at 68.05.