The March non-EC trade deficit is expected to increase to pounds 850m, with underlying import volumes up by about 1 per cent but export volumes flat. Improvements in Irish retailing and sugar sales should counteract a decline in profits from milling and baking at Associated British Foods. However, ABF is expected to deliver only a 2 per cent rise in pre-tax profits, to pounds 165m, at the interim stage. Farnell Electronics is forecast to deliver a 38 per cent lift in profits, to pounds 48.5m, for the full year, following a surge in the market for semiconductors.
Sears is likely to show evidence of a limited recovery after last year's slump. Despite a dismal performance from its sports and leisure divisions and Adams, the children's clothing chain, the group's final results should show an 86 per cent rise, to pounds 125m, as Wallis, Selfridges and BSC deliver the goods. An improved housing market should also see better figures at Tarmac, with full-year profits up more than 300 per cent, to pounds 52m.
Brixton Estates, the industrial property investor, is expected to report full-year profits just up at pounds 29m, with improvements expected in its lettings arm.
Cost-cutting measures should add pounds 30m to first- quarter profits at ICI, helping to boost them to pounds 95m. But pricing difficulties across its portfolio and a generally muted economic environment will continue to depress the chemicals giant's prospects.
April's economic trends are due to be published. A national holiday closes the Japanese markets.
Sources: NatWest Securities, MMS InternationalReuse content