The Week Ahead: Chancellor to set out stall for the election


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The Independent Online

The Chancellor will set out his stall for the election this week, with key labour market and public borrowing data also due.

Credit Suisse believes Wednesday’s Budget will be “more of a political than an economic event”, with little divergence from the tone of the Autumn Statement expected. But unemployment figures, due the same day, will be closely watched. The bank forecasts the out-of-work rate will have fallen from 5.7 per cent to 5.5 per cent, adding: “It is also important to keep an eye out for falls in long-term unemployment, as it has more explanatory power for wage growth than short-term unemployment.” The public sector borrowing figure for February, due the same day, is forecast to come in slightly lower than this time last year, with an £8.3bn deficit expected.

Today sees finals from Circle Holdings, EKF Diagnostics and Tribal Group and half-year figures from Purecircle.

The Chilean copper miner Antofagasta has full-year figures tomorrow. The company has been beset by problems at its Los Pelambres mine and has already flagged disruption to production there. Gem Diamonds also has annual numbers, along with Just Eat, Mears, SafeCharge and WANdisco. IG Group and J Sainsbury both have trading updates. Barclays says of the supermarket: “Assuming that its sales enjoy a boost from its recent aggressive fuel promotion, we tentatively forecast a sales decline of 2.3 per cent. If this forecast is broadly correct then it would indicate that Sainsbury’s sales trends are converging with those of its main peers, having typically grown noticeably faster for several years.”

Wednesday brings finals from Cape, Hochschild Mining, Phoenix Group and UTV Media. Smiths Group has half-year figures.

The latest Monetary Policy Committee minutes from the Bank of England are expected to show no change in the Bank’s stance towards interest rates.

Arbuthnot, EMIS, EnQuest, Jimmy Choo, Lamprell, Next, Ophir Energy, Premier Farnell, Savills, Secure Trust Bank, Ted Baker and Xaar all have finals on Thursday.

The week comes to an end with updates from Investec and Berkeley Group.