Housing sector alert for signs of toil and trouble

The retail sector will be under scrutiny and figures from online fashions player Asos will be key
The retail sector will be under scrutiny and figures from online fashions player Asos will be key
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The housing market will remain in focus this week as figures show how the newly- resurgent mortgage market dealt with February’s deluge over southern England.

Although the loss of activity in some key areas may have held back lending levels, house price figures from both the Halifax and the Nationwide are expected to reveal a strong rise.

With year-on-year increases of almost 10 per cent expected, pressure is likely to mount on the Bank of England to intervene to prevent a bubble. Which tools it will choose is a moot point.

Meanwhile, purchasing managers’ surveys are likely to indicate that UK economic activity held up well in March, supporting hopes that the economy has seen further healthy expansion in the first quarter.

Week ahead


• Household lending – Wet weather may have caused a blip in mortgage approvals in February, following January’s 74-month high.


• Aberdeen Asset Management – A trading update will give investors a better picture of how the turmoil in Asian markets has played out for the group.


• Cupid – The dating website firm’s first full-year results since co-founder Bill Dobbie left the helm will provide concrete evidence of how its newly streamlined operations have been performing.

• Asos – Retail sales growth of “just” 26 per cent in the first two months of the year led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth – and a sharp drop in Asos’ share price – amid fears that growth was slowing, so outlook comments in its half-year results will be scrutinised.


• Dunelm – Investors will be interested in how the group’s recent first-ever TV advertising blitz has impacted sales.


• US non-farm payrolls – Excuses involving the recent severe weather across America are starting to wear thin, but economists say the world’s largest economy was relatively subdued in March, creating around 130,000 jobs.