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The week ahead in business and finance

Expect Centrica to update investors on British Gas customer numbers and its reaction to the Competition and Markets Authority’s energy proposals when it publishes its trading update and hosts its annual general meeting. In the first quarter, the weather was colder than average, and should help boost Centrica’s downstream energy supply operations.

Since releasing its full-year results in February, when management focused on cash flow and dividend security, the shares have jumped by 15pc. Although Centrica’s underlying margins look relatively healthy in the wake of the commodity price crash, analysts at Deutsche Bank cautioned: “Switching away from the Big Six retailers is accelerating.”

Full-year results

Cityfibre Infrastructure Holdings

Trading update

Rio Tinto, Centrica, Plus500

Tuesday 19th April

Saga is on track to post a 6pc increase in full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. Profit is forecast to come in at around £145.9m and a dividend per share of 7.1p is also expected. The bulk of Saga’s profit growth will be driven by its motor and home insurance business.

After news of a series of changes to the business, investors hope to learn more about other initiatives such as the new motor broker panel and Saga Investments. Andreas Vanembden, of Peel Hunt, said: “Over time, we believe these two initiatives will become key to the investment case as Saga transitions towards an affinity broker model for the over-50s in the UK.”

Full-year results


Interim results

McCarthy & Stone, Associated British Foods Trading update BHP Billiton, Ashmore Group, Utilitywise


Building permits (US), current account (EU), ZEW economic sentiment (EU)

Wednesday 20th April

After its 6.5pc rise in revenue and operating profit growth of 8.7pc last year, all eyes will be on Travis Perkins when it posts its first-quarter trading update. However, in the second half of last year, the British builders’ merchant and home improvement retailer experienced a weaker than expected repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) market.

In March, chief executive John Carter attempted to allay investors fears, saying: “We believe that the growth drivers in our markets remain strong and welcome the return to growth of mortgage approvals and secondary housing transactions in the second half of the year.” Mr Carter said this had “supported good growth in RMI sales” in January and February.

Full-year results

Brown (N) Group

Interim results

Punch Taverns, ARM Holdings Trading update, Bunzl, Travis Perkins, GKN, Amec Foster Wheeler, Metro Bank


UK unemployment, home sales (US)

Thursday 21st April

George Osborne is facing another embarrassment, as official figures are likely to reveal that the Chancellor has failed to meet his latest deficit reduction targets. Government borrowing data, due to be released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today, are expected to show that borrowing stood at some £5.9bn in March.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which produces forecasts for the Government, updated its estimates for the deficit last month. It pencilled in a deficit of £72.2bn for the 2015-16 financial year. In order to match this forecast, borrowing would need to stand at just £1.5bn in the month of March.

Analysts at HSBC said: “Barring revisions, March borrowing would have to shrink by 80pc year-on-year to £1.5bn to meet the [OBR] forecast. “We do not see this happening, so instead we expect a more modest 15pc fall.” Separately, the ONS is expected to report a rise in pay growth, when it publishes jobs data on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, broadcasting giant Sky will post its third- quarter results on Thursday after a steady three months, and is expected to reveal continued solid growth. Having shifted its marketing focus to Sky Q, launched earlier this year, investors will be keen to hear of its success. Revenues for the first nine months of the financial year are expected to grow by around 5pc and earnings before interest and tax are forecast to rise by 10pc to £1.1bn, despite the £15m cost of the Sky Q launch.

The uptick in earnings will be mainly driven by the UK division. Any comments on UK trading will also be important ahead of the forthcoming mobile launch and the Bundesliga auction. UBS said it believes Sky’s growth prospects have been underestimated” and the shares are “cheap”.

Interim results

Acacia Mining Trading update Segro, Go-Ahead, SABMiller, Anglo American, Pets at Home, Sky, Ladbrokes


Retail sales (UK), ECB press conference

Friday 22nd April

After its full-year results beat market expectations, investors will be hoping for a similar performance when Reckitt Benckiser posts its first- quarter trading update. The British consumer goods giant has increasingly been driving home its competitive advantage in its consumer health division.

Last year, the FTSE 100 company grew its health division by 14pc. Looking ahead, analysts see possible M&A activity. Alex Smith, of Investec, said: “A transformational consumer health deal could add a compelling leg to the investment case, although scarcity of available assets seemingly remains an obstacle.”