The Week Ahead: Economists expect a focus on balancing the books in Autumn Statement


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The Independent Online

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement dominates the agenda this week, as George Osborne tries to win over businesses and voters ahead of next year’s election.

With public borrowing rising, Mr Osborne has little room for the sort of headline-grabbing giveaways that have curried favour in the past and economists expect a focus on balancing the books when the Chancellor unveils his economic plans on Wednesday.

Investec says: “Anything other than a fiscally neutral statement would leave Mr Osborne open to significant challenge over his fiscal credibility.”

The Office for Budget Responsibility’s latest economic forecast is also due that day and could move markets.

The week begins with finals from Aberdeen Asset Management and the hydrogen fuel cell specialist Intelligent Energy today, along with Bonmarche’s interims.

GW Pharmaceuticals and ITE Group have full-year numbers out tomorrow. Anite, Gooch & Housego, Northgate and WYG have half-year figures and Legoland owner Merlin Entertainment updates the market on trading.

Mid-week sees finals from Brewin Dolphin, Innovation Group and business software giant Sage. API Group has interim numbers and British Airways-owner IAG releases traffic statistics for November.

The broker Numis and TUI Travel have full-year results on Thursday, with TUI investors expecting a rise in the dividend. Shareholders will also look for an update on the merger with German parent company TUI AG, due to complete in the middle of this month.

Interim figures are due from Betfair on Thursday, with Numis estimating a big jump in earnings before exceptionals to £76m, from £49m a year earlier, thanks to the World Cup and a good run of upsets.

Consort Medical, DS Smith, Greene King, Mulberry and Pets at Home also have half-year figures, while easyJet will deliver its passenger numbers for November.

Friday sees half-year results from Berkeley Group, a trading statement from SThree and a management statement from ISG.