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The Business Matrix: Tuesday 22 April 2014

William Hill must defy the odds

The last major report of the week will be William Hill’s first-quarter numbers on Friday, which come against the backdrop of a struggling gambling industry. Ivor  Jones at Numis says: “The share price has a wall of  worry to climb. We are at a trough in terms of trading  and uncertainty.” Publishers Reed Elsevier and Pearson also update the market this week.

Pub chain stays  in good spirits

The Spirit Pub Company,  which owns the Chef and Brewer Pubs, will serve up first-half results on Thursday, having reported a jump in food and drink sales in the eight weeks to 1 March. The company is forecast to report another increase in sales.

Unilever expects  small earnings fall

There are a a slew of updates due on Thursday, with consumer goods giant Unilever among them. City consensus expects a slight fall in earnings at the Lynx-to-Cornetto owner.

Mining firm Anglo American also has first quarter results. Investors will be looking similar solid profits to last year.

Sports Direct can hit the target

Analysts are predicting solid numbers when Sports Direct posts a trading statement tomorrow – despite a share price wobble earlier this month after founder Mike Ashley sold a £200m stake.

Troubled flooring firm Carpetright also updates the market tomorrow, following a profit warning last month.  Although sales are up on last year, investors will be concerned by an expected slowdown in growth since the end of 2013.

Primark sweetens the pill for ABF

Many investors will be closely scrutinising Associated British Foods’ first-half results when they are released tomorrow.

There are concerns that ABF may have to slashforecasts at its sugar division after a calamitous profit warning from German sugar giant Südzucker earlier this month. But booming sales at ABF’s other big business Primark, which now has two stores in France and is plotting further overseas expansion, has analysts predicting a similar outlook.

Nokia deal gets Chinese approval

Nokia said last night that the sale of its mobile handsets business to Microsoft will be finalised on 25 April, as it had received all the required regulatory approvals. The $7.5bn deal, which was agreed in September, had been delayed due to pending approvals, but the companies recently won a crucial nod from Chinese regulators.

Economy on up as index rises 0.8%

Fresh signs of the US economic improvement came last night as the index of leading indicators there increased by its most in four months. The Conference Board’s Index rose 0.8 per cent in March – the highest since November – as continued improvements in the job market, consumer confidence and demand looked set to boost the economy.

Vodafone sued by former partner

Vodafone’s Greek division is being sued for €1.37bn by its former partner in the country, Mobile Trade Stores, over the cash crisis allegedly triggered when Vodafone cancelled its franchise agreements.

MTS’s parent company Papistas is suing for “moral damages”and harm caused  by the loss of business.  Vodafone said the claims were  “without merit”.

UK rental prices increase by 8%

Rents in the UK are up 8 per cent over the past year, making it ever harder for young people to save enough  for a deposit on their first home. Average monthly  rents now stand at £762 across the country and are £1,427  in London.

The number of new tenancies is up 20 per cent, according to research from the Sequence estate agencies group.

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