INFLATION figures due for publication tomorrow are expected to show the consumer prices index remained unchanged for the third month in a row in April.
“It is possible that the UK experienced marginal deflation, but we believe that this was probably avoided largely due to a strengthening in oil prices taking petrol prices off their recent lows,” said IHS Global’s chief UK economist, Howard Archer.
The direction for inflation will have been among the topics discussed at this month’s meeting of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, minutes for which are published on Wednesday. It is likely that rate-setters were unanimous in voting to keep rates costs on hold.
On the corporate front, Marks & Spencer is tipped to deliver an increase in annual profits, helped by an improving performance at its clothing operation. The City expects profits to have risen for the first time in four years to hit £648m.
• Babcock – The defence contractor releases full–year results, having recently told investors that it continues to make “strong progress”.
• Scottish Apprenticeship Week – A series of events kick off to mark the opportunities on offer to apprentices.
• Inflation – Recovering oil prices could mean the UK has dodged deflation, but some economists believe the consumer prices index may have turned negative.
• Bloomsbury – Best known for the Harry Potter series, the publisher posts annual results.
• Vodafone – Full–year figures are also due from the mobile phone giant.
• Marks & Spencer – Results are expected to show the first rise in annual profits at the retailer for four years.
• Thomas Cook – The tour operator is tipped to deliver a modest reduction in half–year losses, after budget airline EasyJet made a rare profit for the traditionally loss–making winter period. Numis forecasts a 3.7 per cent fall in the underlying deficit to £180m.
• SSE – The Perth–based energy group’s annual results are likely to show it has delivered on its goal of giving shareholders an inflation–beating increase in their full–year dividends.
• Britvic – First–half numbers are scheduled from the maker of soft drinks including Fruit Shoot, J2O, Robinsons and Tango, which also distributes Pepsi and 7Up.
• MPC minutes – Rate–setters at the Bank of England are widely expected to have voted 9–0 to keep the base rate at its record low of 0.5 per cent.
• Royal Mail – The former state–owned postal service unveils full–year numbers following a recent boost to its shares sparked by the demise of rival Whistl. The market consensus is for reported profits to fall 13 per cent to £583m amid “highly competitive” conditions in the UK parcel business.
• National Grid – Annual results are due from the operator of Britain’s power transmission network.
• Retail sales – Data from the Office for National Statistics may show that year–on–year sales volume growth slowed to 3.3 per cent last month, down from 4.2 per cent in March, because of the early arrival of Easter. But Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said: “The prospects for retail sales and consumer spending look largely bright.”
• Edinburgh Tourism Showcase – The third annual event, celebrating the city’s growing reputation as a “foodie” destination, takes place at the Assembly Rooms.
• Public finances – Public sector net borrowing is tipped to have narrowed to £8.5 billion in April, compared with £9.3bn a year earlier.