Market watch

TRADING updates from recruitment firms Hays and Michael Page are this week set to highlight their increasing dependence on overseas business.

Hays, which will give its update on Thursday, is the UK's biggest recruitment firm and has previously said the slump in demand for staff had bottomed out amid signs of improving confidence.

The firm derives the majority of its profits from outside the UK and analysts are likely to focus their attention on the Asia Pacific and European sections of the business.

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Meanwhile, analysts at RBS expect Friday's report from Michael Page to show positive growth in Asia Pacific and Americas, and the UK business could also see a lift with an upturn in demand for accountancy and finance roles.

RBS said accountancy and financial recruiting is the largest single discipline – at 50 per cent of net fee income – and its analysis indicated positive year-on-year growth in vacancies in this area in March.

The market will be watching an update from brewer and pubs chain Marston's on Wednesday to see if recent trade has continued to recover after a snow-hit January.

Marston's, which has 2,200 pubs and brews cask ales including Pedigree and Hobgoblin, reported a 6 per cent slump in sales during January after the weather put off customers.

It said last week that sales trends had returned to levels seen before the disruption caused by the harsh winter, although there has since been repeated warnings over the consumer outlook for this year.

News of a possible bid for Shed Media – the maker of hit television shows Supernanny and Who Do You Think You Are? – could be revealed on Wednesday when the firm posts full-year results.

Last month Shed said talks were ongoing with a buyout consortium made up of Bowmark Capital, Darwin Private Equity and members of its management team.

In its recent update, Shed said the group had continued to trade well and forecast results would be in line with market expectations for the 12 months to 31 December.

Week ahead


Shed Media (finals); Marston's (update)


Hays, Marks & Spencer, Misys, Robert Walters (updates)


Michael Page International (update)