FTSE coming under increasing pressure

Confidence in the FTSE-100 index is low, with more than two thirds of CMC Markets’ clients expecting further falls from last month’s near all-time high.

Figures from the spread betting firm showed 68 per cent of its customers think the Footsie has further to fall, despite Friday’s recovery triggered by only a moderate rise in employment in the United States, leaving the door open for the Federal Reserve to continue pumping cash into the world’s largest economy.

The prediction comes as supermarket chain Sainsbury’s takes centre stage this week, when it reports on recent trading. Britain’s third-largest grocer is expected to reveal further sales growth at the expense of beleaguered rival Tesco when it reports on first-quarter business on Wednesday.

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Analysts believe a 34th successive quarter of like-for-like sales increases is on the cards after Sainsbury’s recently
announced its fifth year of profit growth in a row.

The latest retail figures from Kantar Worldpanel show Sainsbury’s was the only one of the “big four” supermarket chains to gain market share – with the others being squeezed by the likes of Waitrose and Aldi at opposite ends of the market.

Home Retail Group, owner of catalogue retailer Argos and DIY chain Homebase, comes into focus on Thursday when first-quarter trading will reveal if it has maintained the recent turnaround that saw it return to year-on-year profit growth.

An online push boosted Argos’ full-year figures, posted last month, but analysts have raised questions over whether its electricals division, helped by a splurge on tablet computers, can maintain its momentum.

Wednesday’s trading update from online fashion firm As Seen On Screen (Asos) is expected to show further impressive sales growth as
demand from “fashion-forward 20-somethings” shows no sign of slowing.

Meanwhile, Mulberry’s attempts to turn around recent disappointing trade will take centre stage on Thursday when the luxury handbag maker is expected to publish a slump in full-year profits.

PZ Cussons – maker of Carex, Imperial Leather and Original Source – is also due to update the City on its latest figures on Thursday as it battles for sales amid squeezed consumer spending.