The Week Ahead: Resilient shoppers raise hopes of last of the summer whines

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There will be much interest in the British Retail Consortium sales data for July, which will reveal the state of the high street.

Nick Bubb, a retail analyst at Evolution Securities, expects the retail sales data to remain subdued as retailers continue to struggle. "I'm expecting it to be not too good, not too bad," he said, forecasting like-for-like sales to fall 0.5 per cent from a year ago. Barclays Capital is also forecasting a 0.5 per cent drop. Mr Bubb said sales of food are likely to prop up the data while non-food sales are expected to be weak.

He does not expect the London bombings to affect sales too much. "Maybe it will have a marginal impact on the tourist business," he said.

As the bank reporting season winds down, one major concern so far has been the rise in bad debt charges as consumers sag under the debt burden.

The ability of consumers to repay their debts will be of interest when Bradford & Bingley releases its interim results on Tuesday. Analysts will be looking for any signs of an increase in late payments on mortgages, after the bank warned in late June of a modest rise.

Also reporting is Standard Chartered with analysts expecting a solid result. In a recent trading update, its chief executive, Mervyn Davies, said investments in high-growth markets had fuelled "good income momentum". Most of the bank's operations are in Asia, while there will also be interest in how the integration of its Korea First Bank acquisition is progressing.

Away from banks, but also in the financial sector, Old Mutual will release its first half results on Wednesday and strong South African equity markets are expected to boost earnings. However, Old Mutual's heavy exposure to the South African Rand, which has weakened recently, may crimp earnings. Around 82 per cent of Old Mutual's pre-tax profit comes from South Africa.

There will also be market interest in any news on the Old Mutual offer for Swedish insurer Skandia. The group is in talks to buy Skandia, although the Swedish company is looking for rival bidders.

Also in the insurance sector, Aviva, the UK's biggest insurer, will release its interim results on Thursday with operating profits expected to show modest growth. There are concerns about the ability of Aviva, which owns Norwich Union, to grow its revenue, although there are hopes its margins will improve.

The other big insurer to report will be Royal & SunAlliance with analysts concerned about the performance of its US business. The other point of interest will be whether Royal & Sun releases any more information about an asbestos-related lawsuit from General Motors.

North of the border, two Scottish-based companies will report this week with Scottish Power releasing its first quarter results on Wednesday.

It will be its first results since it announced plans to sell its US business, PacifiCorp, for $9.4bn (£5.3bn) to Warren Buffet's MidAmerican. That sale will slim Scottish Power, and, according to analysts, make it a takeover target.

The other is brewer Scottish & Newcastle, with analysts expecting its operating profits to benefit from further cost savings. The performance of Scottish & Newcastle, which is behind brands such as John Smith and Newcastle Brown Ale, has been boosted by its exposure to the rapidly growing Russian market. However, one concern is that its Russian joint venture with Carlsberg is set to face court action from Russian minority shareholders later this month.

Also in the news are NTL and Telewest which are both UK-based but listed on Nasdaq. They will report earnings results this week. The City speculated last month that this would be the occasion for the companies to announce their long-awaited merger, but negotiations are taking longer than expected and neither company is expected to say anything about it this week.

Continuing on the merger and acquisitions theme, diversified miner Xstrata is also releasing its results this week. Analysts are expecting a large rise in profits as the company receives a boost from high coal and copper prices.

The market will also be interested in any comments from chief executive Mick Davis about the company's strategy after it lost out in the bid for the Australian miner WMC to BHP Billiton. The Swiss-based Xstrata has said previously that it is on the look-out for both small and large acquisitions.

CALENDAR

Tomorrow 8

UK: Results: (interim) Standard Chartered, Management Consulting Group; (final) NWF Group.

Tuesday 9

UK: Results: (I) Bradford & Bingley, Scottish & Newcastle.

US: Results: (second quarter) NTL.

Wednesday 10

UK: Results: (I) Old Mutual, Xstrata; (Q1) Scottish Power.

Thursday 11

UK: Results: (I) Aviva, Royal & SunAlliance, Spirent, P&O.

US: Results: (Q2) Telewest.

Friday 12

UK: Results: none scheduled.

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