Week ahead: A favourite Christmas pastime

Dixons Retail is expected to announce a robust first'half performance. Picture: Getty
Dixons Retail is expected to announce a robust first'half performance. Picture: Getty
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Economists are preparing for a pre-festive feast of numbers as the Office for National Statistics clears the decks before the Christmas break.

Releases include a third estimate of GDP growth for the third quarter, as well as November figures for consumer price inflation, unemployment, producer price inflation, retail sales and government finances.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS, said: “This is obviously a lot of data and surveys to digest, but hopefully most of the news will go down well and highlight the fact that the UK economy is ending 2013 in a much better position than looked remotely likely at the start of the year.”


• Aggreko – Investors will be looking for news of contract wins in a trading update, amid concerns about another profits warning.

• Eurozone PMI – “Flash” purchasing managers’ indices will give economists an early view of how the major economies on the continent are faring this month - the key concern is France, which has failed to match Germany’s performance in recent months.


• Dixons Retail – The Currys and PC World parent is expected to notch up a robust first–half performance as it continues to benefit from the demise of rival Comet. Analysts at Barclays are predicting sales to have risen by as much as 12 per cent in the group’s second quarter.

• National Express – The transport firm will reveal how trading has fared since an impressive third quarter when it saw record numbers of passengers over the August bank holiday. Since then the group has been shortlisted to bid for the ScotRail franchise.

• UK Inflation – The CPI measure of inflation could drop to 2 per cent for the first time since 2009 as the relative strength of the pound helps moderate food and fuel prices.

• Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, will publish an interim report on building new runways.


• UK Unemployment – Official figures will show the extent to which recent economic growth has created jobs, with the key ILO measure of unemployment forecast to have edged down to around 7.5 per cent.

• MPC Minutes – The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee is likely to have been unanimous in its decision to keep interest rates on hold, but the minutes will be studied for hints of any inclination to alter forecasts or fine tune its forward guidance.

• US Federal Reserve – The Fed’s open market committee will announce the decision that traders have been nervously awaiting, amid speculation it might finally start the dreaded “taper” of its bond purchases.


• Serco – The embattled outsourcing giant will try to provide some clarity to investors with its final update before posting full–year results. The firm, which faces a fraud probe over its contract to electronically tag criminals, has already warned that profits have not increased in the last 12 months.

• UK Retail Sales – Official figures are expected to confirm that the picture on the high street improved only modestly in November, as more confident but still squeezed consumers kept their powder dry ahead of the Christmas shopping season.


• UK GDP – The second revision of Q3GDP growth is widely expected to confirm the economy grew by 0.8 per cent over the three months to September, putting the recovery on an even firmer footing.