A FLURRY of trading updates from housebuilders will confirm that 2013 was a barnstorming year for the sector after the economic recovery and government schemes spurred on a property market revival.
Last year saw the return of queues of would-be buyers keen to snap up new builds as the Help to Buy initiative and rush of mortgage availability sent demand soaring.
Charles Church group Persimmon kicked off the end-of-year updates with a better-than-expected rise in annual revenues last week.
But the City will also be keen for clues as to how the market will perform in 2014, given that one of the major stimulus measures – the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending Scheme – has of this month been axed for residential mortgages.
• Best of the Best – The company, which runs competitions to win cars and luxury prizes online and at retail locations, has already guided expectation higher and should confirm its bumper figures today.
• Inflation – The UK’s headline consumer prices index has been falling in recent months, but utility price hikes are expected to have stalled the decline in December.
• Barratt Developments – Housebuilder Barratt has been one of the biggest gainers from the UK government’s Help to Buy scheme and is likely to report more of the same, after it recently noted forward private orders were 47 per cent higher than a year ago.
• JP Morgan – The US reporting season will pick up steam with the first of the financial giants updating. Management is expected to talk at length about future litigation costs. Rival Wells Fargo also reports on the final three months of 2013 on Tuesday.
• Taylor Wimpey – Analysts at Deutsche Bank are forecasting a 10 per cent increase in revenues for the builder’s financial second half, driven by an 8.7 per cent hike in sales volumes.
• Treasury select committee – Bank of England governor Mark Carney will answer to MPs on the Bank’s November 2013 financial stability report.
• Aberdeen Asset Management – Investors will be looking for details of how the recent underperformance of emerging markets has affected the Scottish wealth manager.
• Home Retail Group – The company’s Argos stores are expected to have enjoyed a good Christmas after consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets topped the sales tables as must–have items. Argos recently launched its own–brand tablet to capitalise on the broadening appeal of the computers.
• Dixons Retail – The Currys and PC World parent will have benefited from the craze for tablets, but is expected to reveal a slowdown in sales growth against a year earlier, when it benefited from the demise of Comet. UBS is forecasting UK like–for–like growth of 3 per cent in the group’s third quarter to 4 January.
• Associated British Foods – The firm’s Primark chain of budget fashion stores is likely to emerge as one of the high street’s Christmas winners as hard–pressed shoppers retained an eye for value. Solid progress is also expected from its grocery division, with brands including Ovaltine, Ryvita and Silver Spoon sugar.
• Retail sales – Official figures are expected to show that retail sales volumes rose by just 0.2 per cent month–on–month in December, limiting the year–on–year gain to 2.4 per cent and calling into question the consumer part of the recovery.