Market Watch: FTSE breaks 4000 barrier as analysts await rights issues

A FEEL-good factor surrounding London's G20 summit and better economic news coming out of the US and UK helped lift the FTSE 100 Index above 4,000 for the first time since Mid-February. It finished the week 130.8 points higher at 4029.7, up 3.4%.

Recruitment groups Hays and Michael Page International are both set to issue quarterly trading updates next week.

Page will be first up with figures on Tuesday. The firm has cut staffing numbers by 1,000 to 4,500 since September. Analysts predicted full-year pre-tax profits will drop to 25.8m for 2009, compared with 140.1m in the year to December 31.

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Hays, which releases its quarterly figures on Thursday, is also expected to have been hit by the downturn. Analysts expect the company to make an operating profit of about 172m in 2009, down from 253.8m in the year to June 30, 2008.

Polling and research firm YouGov invested heavily during 2008, but has warned of "more challenging" trading in the current climate as revenues fail to match management hopes.

Interim results on Monday will bear the brunt of "much weaker than anticipated" new business in the UK, although the firm has seen good growth in some markets such as Germany and the US. Numis Securities predicts pre-tax profits of 1.4m for the period.

Rights issues are set to come into focus next week as shareholders at leading car dealership Inchcape and roofing and insulation firm SIG have their say on the firms' fundraising. Inchcape's investors will consider the company's 232m rights issue at Monday's EGM.

SIG investors will meet on Thursday to give their opinion of its 325m fundraising move. The Sheffield-based firm saw net debt rise to 697m at the end of last year due to the impact of the weakening pound.

Low-cost airline easyJet will provide a glimpse of conditions in the "no frills" travel sector when it reports passenger statistics on Tuesday.

EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison said that the group was benefiting from a migration of European passengers from normally higher cost services and that this had more than made up for the slowdown caused by the recession.