Markets hope for sweeter tidings from chocolate firm

The market will be waiting to see if Thorntons saw a last'minute rush for its wares in the run'up to Christmas. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA

The market will be waiting to see if Thorntons saw a last'minute rush for its wares in the run'up to Christmas. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA

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Employment figures this week should show British workers are finally starting to enjoy a rise in disposable income, as wage rises continue to trickle up.

The already documented plunge in inflation means that relatively modest pay rises still make staff better off in real terms, and Investec forecasts that wages grew 1.7 per cent in November.

So spare a thought for the rich and powerful attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, which has just got more expensive after the Swiss franc soared.

One hard-working Brit who won’t need the pay rise will be the privately wealthy George Osborne – but he might be wishing that the state were equally well heeled when public finance figures show how far his budget targets have drifted off course.

WEEK AHEAD

Today

• Thorntons – The chocolatier has in theory already taken the pain with a pre–Christmas profit warning, so it has the chance to sweeten the pill if it enjoyed a last–minute rush for stocking fillers.

Tomorrow

l William Hill – investors are betting on the firm continuing the run of positive trading reported at its previous overview, in October.

Wednesday

• MPC minutes – Although any overarching reassessment of the prices outlook in light of the collapse in oil prices is likely to come in the February inflation report, the minutes of the January MPC meeting will no doubt be scrutinised for any immediate adjustments to policymakers’ thinking.

• Unemployment – The economy should have carried on creating jobs last month, although perhaps not enough to make further inroads into the headline rate.

• Dixons Carphone – The retail giant has already said it enjoyed an extraordinary Black Friday and is expected to continue its strong run with positive festive sales figures.

• Halfords – A solid trading update should help to offset the blow caused by the recent resignation of the firm’s chief executive.

Thursday

• Public finances – November’s figures were better than of late, but a further improvement in December is likely to prove difficult since it will include Britain’s controversial £2.9 billion supplementary payment to the European Union.

• Royal Mail – As well as crucial figures for the key festive season, the City will also look for an update on the impact of the collapse of rival CityLink last month.

• ECB meeting – The European Central Bank looks set to finally launch a quantitative easing programme of its own. Either way, the post–meeting announcement is eagerly awaited and is likely be the key event for markets this week.

Friday

• Retail sales – Official figures on retail sales in December and January are unpredictable and volatile at the best of times, but the high volumes of Black Friday–related sales makes things even more uncertain this year.

• European PMIs – “Flash” purchasing managers’ indices from across the continent may well show the eurozone ekeing out some growth.

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