Focus on retail and impact of mild weather

Housebuilder Cala is believed to have ambitions to go public. Picture: PA

Housebuilder Cala is believed to have ambitions to go public. Picture: PA

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The retail sector will be firmly in the spotlight as corporate updates from the likes of Asos and Debenhams give further clues of the impact that the mild autumn weather has had on the sector.

Given that there are suspicions that a single unseasonably warm month has been used to cover deeper problems on the high street, a few competitors who have already reported will be hoping that numbers from the likes of Debenhams back them up.

At least official figures are likely to confirm survey evidence that September was a bad month for shops, particularly those involved in clothing.

Over on the retail parks, the once mighty Tesco will have nothing to cover its modesty with half-year figures expected to confirm its plunging profitability and struggle for market share.

Perhaps it will be newly high tech Argos that shows the way forward in the sector, as its conversion from catalogue throwback to multi-channel trailblazer is expected to have boosted profits by more than a quarter.

WEEK AHEAD

Today

• Cala – Although owned by private equity, the housebuilder is thought to have stock exchange ambitions and will present annual results in full.

Tomorrow

• Public finances – Lower-than-expected tax receipts are likely to keep borrowing above last year’s levels, at about £11 billion in September.

• Asos – Two profit warnings and a warehouse fire mean the fashion website will post profits of around £45 million, almost 18 per cent down on a year ago.

Wednesday

• Bank of England – Minutes of the monetary policy committee’s last meeting may reveal a softening stance among the more hawkish members but voting patterns are expected to have remained the same.

• Home Retail Group – The company’s digital turnaround strategy for Argos should show further signs of paying off when it reveals higher half-year profits. The Homebase side of the business is also expected to have made gains, although more modest than the 26 per cent bottom line jump forecast for Argos.

Thursday

• Debenhams – Investec is forecasting a 21 per cent fall in Debenhams’ full-year profits, to a little over £110 million. It follows a disastrous Christmas last year and investors will be hoping to see signs that a turnaround plan is progressing ahead of the year’s key retail season.

• Tesco – It will be crunch time for new chief executive Dave Lewis, as the city is expecting an explanation for the firm’s £250m profits guidance overstatement following an internal investigation. Meanwhile, interim profits look set to be confirmed at around £850m.

Friday

• GDP – UK economic growth is expected to have moderated slightly from the second quarter’s 0.9 per cent.

• Spectris – The maker of high-tech instrumentation is expected to post an improvement following a disappointing second quarter.

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