Market Watch: Spotlight on consumers

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THE spending power of consumers in the run-up to Christmas will be in the spotlight this week.

Inflation is expected to dip in figures released on Tuesday, but economists see it as a temporary reprieve as the cost of living is set to rise in the months ahead.

The consumer price index (CPI) is forecast to have fallen slightly to 2.6 per cent in November, from 2.7 per cent in October. CPI inflation is predicted to peak at 3.5 per cent by mid-2013.

Retail sales for the same month are expected to receive a pre-Christmas boost and rise by about 0.3 per cent.

The performance of savings vouchers and hampers group Park, which is reporting interim results on Tuesday, will also provide an early indication of consumer spending patterns.

Park said in September that savings orders for Christmas were 6 per cent ahead of the same time last year.

Petrofac, the oil services 
giant, will brief investors on progress with bidding activity on contracts in its key Middle East and North African markets in a trading update, also due on Tuesday.

The group, which has bases in Aberdeen and Montrose, recently said it expected its backlog of deals to grow, marking a turnaround from August when it noted that customers were delaying the award of contracts.

Brent oil has traded at record high average prices this year which should be a driver for further oil and gas exploration and drilling campaigns by oil companies which is good news for support services companies like Petrofac.