THE RETAIL sector will be in sharp focus as investors await annual results from Tesco on Wednesday, while the following day brings sales data from the Office for National Statistics.
IHS Global Insight’s chief UK economist, Howard Archer, predicts the figures will show a “healthy” 0.6 per cent increase in volumes for March compared with the previous month.
Minutes from the April meeting of the Bank of England’s rate-setting committee are due on Wednesday, and are tipped to show members were united in keeping rates on hold.
The week also features trading updates from bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill, and half-year results from Primark owner Associated British Foods.
• HSS Hire Group – Annual results are due from the tool hire specialist, which was valued at £325 million when it floated in February.
• Rio Tinto – The mining giant, which employs more than 60,000 people across 40 countries, will update investors on recent trading.
• Associated British Foods – Robust sales at Primark are expected to be offset by weak sugar prices, a strong pound and the effect of the supermarket price wars when the conglomerate posts its half–year results. Analysts at Numis are forecasting a 2.8 per cent dip in adjusted pre–tax profits to £455m.
• Ladbrokes – A favourable Grand National has given the bookmaker a much–needed boost ahead of its trading update. The Aintree meeting was kind to the bookies after the favourite Shutthefrontdoor failed to win, but this comes after a disappointing Cheltenham Festival and a poor run of recent football results. The City expects a 2 per cent fall in first–quarter operating profits to £18m.
• Bank of England – Minutes from the central bank’s monetary policy committee are unlikely to throw up any major surprises, with economists predicting members voted unanimously to keep interest rates steady at 0.5 per cent earlier this month.
• Tesco – The UK’s biggest supermarket chain delivers its latest set of annual results.
• William Hill – The bookie suffered a 14 per cent drop in operating profits in the first quarter of last year due to two weeks of poor football results and Numis expects the figure to fall again in the same period this year due to more unfavourable results. The City will also want know more about plans for growth after its £709m bid for online rival 888 Holdings collapsed in February because it could not agree a price with the target’s major shareholders.
• Reckitt Benckiser – A trading update is also pencilled in from the consumer goods group, which owns a stable of brands including Nurofen, Strepsils and Scholl.
• HSBC – The banking giant, which has apologised for “unacceptable” tax avoidance issues linked to its Swiss arm, holds its annual meeting and is expected to face an investor backlash over executive pay.
• AstraZenaca – Shareholders will also gather for the drug company’s annual meeting.