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Friday will be a quiet day on the corporate front, while in economic news, January's retail sales data will be published.

The pattern of high-street spending through most of 2012 was one of strength above expectations, until retail sales began to weaken over the autumn - indeed, volumes declined by 0.6% over the fourth quarter as a whole.

This background, coupled with poor anecdotal reports, plus snow later in the month, led analysts to expect a weak January British Retail Consortium (BRC) retail sales monitor. Instead the opposite was the case, with total sales value growth firming to 3.0% year-on-year from December's 1.5%.

"With few apparent base effects from January 2012, this would imply a month-on-month jump in the Office for National Statistics' series this time," says Philip Shaw, economist at Investec, stressing it was "feasible" the survey was correct and that retail sales were recovering. He points out that employment has risen by over 500,000 over the past year, while real net household incomes are estimated to have risen by 2.8% in the year to the third quarter.

Overall, Shaw is expecting a monthly 0.6% increase in sales and 0.8% excluding fuel. "More importantly this would increase our confidence that the economy is about to recover gradually rather than fall into a triple-dip [recession]," he adds.

Friday 15 February

Trading statements

Thorntons, Anglo American.




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