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."

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Test Lead (C#, Java, HTML, SQL) Kingston Finance

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Access/Teradata Developer, Banking, Bristol £400pd

£375 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Access / Teradata Developer - Banking - Bristol -...

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home