The week ahead: Stop that Christmas shopping, MyTravel is having an EGM

And so the year ends, in the City at least. This week the corporate newsflow grinds to a near halt as markets close for the festivities. The New York Stock Exchange shuts at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve, while at home, the London Stock Exchange also gets its holiday break under way at 12.30pm.

It will remain closed on 27 and 28 December before resuming normal trading hours on Wednesday and Thursday. On New Year's Eve, trading stops again at 12.30pm and does not resume until Tuesday 4 January.

But before everyone heads off on holiday, there will be one or two party poopers, of which the main one is MyTravel.

The action begins tomorrow when the holiday company's bondholders have their day in court. They won the right last week to go to the High Court and put their case that the ailing firm has no right to implement its £800m debt-for-equity swap without their consent.

If they win, MyTravel will hold an EGM on Christmas Eve to address shareholders. If it wins, however, it can go through with the refinancing, though last week the bondholders were examining suing MyTravel should it succeed tomorrow.

Aberdeen Asset Management, meanwhile, remains hopeful it will get full-year results out "before Christmas", although no date has been set. The fund manager, which has until the end of January to publish its figures, has held off while it concludes talks with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) about the split-capital investment trusts debacle.

Most expect the watchdog to confirm that investors who lost out in the scandal can only get compensation of around £200m, far less than the £350m sought by the FSA from 20 banks, brokers and fund managers.

Also still at work will be InterContinental Hotels. The second-round bidding for control of 75 of its UK hotels, with a net book value of around £1bn, closes on Wednesday. So far, the three frontrunners are Goldman Sachs' property fund, Whitehall; the private equity firm Blackstone; and Lehman Brothers. InterContinental is selling the hotels via a sale and manage-back arrangement.

Others holding off the festive holidays are software group Misys, which provides an update on first-half business, and housebuilder Persimmon, which issues a trading statement at a round-table analyst meeting. There the emphasis will be on the strength of the housing market, any potential plans to return cash to shareholders and clues to further consolidation in the sector.

These firms aside, barely any companies in Europe are reporting, and in the US, investment banks Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns are the only two of note addressing investors.

Instead, the focus from now on in both London and New York will be on the flurry of updates from the retail sector that flood the market every January. So far, the omens have not been good. One-day "flash" sales and heavy discounting have dominated the high street as stores attempt to lure customers, while figures have also shown a record boom in internet shopping. However, official data last week showed a surprise 0.6 per cent rise in retail sales in November.

So the festive updates in January will come under intense scrutiny. Dhaval Joshi, global strategist at SG Securities, says: "They are important because, in the UK and US, the consumer is the mainstay of the economy. So much of the retail sector's business comes at this time of year, and it can really make or break annual sales."

Interest rates went up during 2005 as the Bank of England sought to rein in excess spending and debt levels. "We're going to see if the rises have worked. If they have, in a way we can expect bad news," adds Mr Joshi.

It is not just investors in retail who will be examining the updates. The City often talks of "the January effect," where the tone set in the first month continues throughout the year.

Not everyone is downcast. Richard Grainger, chief executive of Close Brothers Corporate Finance, says: "The FTSE has been bouncing all over the place and the market is still quite fragile. I believe there are two ways it could go next year. The retail sector is not so great: consumers are not going to spend and this will affect earnings. On the plus side, financial institutions are overweight in cash and, because of the sheer weight of money, they need to get into equities. So long as there isn't a 9/11-type shock, I am erring on the positive side."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

Recruitment Genius: Account Handler - Personal Lines

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of insurance and financial...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Developer / IT Support Engineer

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing financial ser...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food