Week ahead: Consumer feeling moves into spotlight

It is holiday time next weekend for the UK and Europe, where most stock exchanges will be closed. Picture: AFP/Getty

It is holiday time next weekend for the UK and Europe, where most stock exchanges will be closed. Picture: AFP/Getty

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UPDATES from Marks & Spencer, Asos and B&Q owner Kingfisher will paint a picture of Britain’s consumer feeling going into the long Easter weekend.

M&S has been having a hard time of it recently so any improvement in its figures will be taken as a positive even if, as expected, it still posts a decline.

And a wider survey of consumer confidence due on Tuesday will also be of interest to the political classes, says Investec: “Just weeks ahead of the general election, we suspect governing politicians will be watching the release of the March GfK consumer confidence measure for clues they could be the lucky recipients of a pre-election boost to sentiment.”

Today

• Household lending – Housing market turnover appears to be recovering following a lull through much of 2014, but economists don’t expect much advance on the £1.6 billion of mortgage lending reported in the previous month.

• EU consumer confidence – Despite the emergence of some green shoots in the eurozone’s economic data in recent weeks, analysts still expect consumer sentiment to be relatively depressed.

Tomorrow

• Thomas Cook – The City is hoping to see an improvement in performance when the travel firm posts an update on its half–year trading. Numis broker Wyn Ellis expects the firm to deliver an upbeat report on its UK and German markets with bookings rising strongly.

• Kingfisher – New boss Veronique Laury will present her strategy for the business at its full–year results, just days after fears emerged that its €275 million (£202m) acquisition of France’s Mr Bricolage may have hit the buffers.

• UK GDP – The third reading of economic growth for the final quarter of 2014 is most likely to confirm the relatively modest improvement of 0.5 per cent that was originally estimated.

Wednesday

• Manufacturing PMI – Rising volumes of new business from domestic clients and shoots of recovery in the euro area economy should ensure a positive reading in the purchasing managers’ index.

• Asos – After a second–quarter update reported better–than–expected sales but poorer margins, interims are likely to be largely in–line, with the City more interested in any outlook comments on the spring and summer season.

Thursday

• Marks & Spencer – The high street stalwart is expected to notch up a 15th consecutive quarter of falling sales in its clothing division, despite moves to fix delivery problems at its online service. Analysts expect the firm to report a decline of 1.2 per cent in like–for–like sales for the fourth quarter at its general merchandise unit.

• Construction PMI – The purchasing managers’ survey is expected to indicate that construction activity was healthy in March but eased back after reaching a four–month high in February.

Friday

• Good Friday – The bank holiday will see stock exchanges closed across most European countries. In the US, employment and earnings figures are due to be published as usual.

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