Business Information Service: This Week

MONDAY 25.1.93: December's UK money data should show small signs of improvement in M0 - notes and coins in circulation - despite poor indications from retail sales last week.

M4 - notes in circulation plus bank and building society deposits - fell by 0.2 per cent in November. But a lending forecast for December of between pounds 1.8bn and pounds 2bn would mean an overall increase of around 0.3 per cent month on month, and 4.3 per cent over the year.

A firm rise in new commitments from the building societies is also expected, up to pounds 2bn from pounds 1.85bn in November.

The prosecution case in the trial of Thomas Ward, the former Guinness director accused of stealing pounds 5.2m from the company, is due to close today.

TUESDAY 26.1.93: Large competitors have put sustained pressure on Budgens, which remains in the middle ground of UK food retailing. But the new management is expected to have had a positive effect on interim results. After a fall in net debt and interest charges, an increase of 57 per cent to pounds 2.2m in pre-tax profits is possible. Analysts are looking for year-end pre-tax profits of pounds 6.2m after capital expenditure of pounds 12m, and a drop in net debt to pounds 12m against pounds 29m last year.

WEDNESDAY 27.1.93: A sound performance from W H Smith's core businesses, with gross margins steady and costs under control, is unlikely to offset anticipated losses at Our Price and Do It All. Waterstone's trend sales are expected to be up by 8.9 per cent, however, and there has been excellent progress on margins in the US. The City is looking for an interim pre-tax profit of pounds 40.5m, against pounds 43.6m last time.

THURSDAY 28.1.93: 'Wider and wider' is the pronouncement on the UK current account, with the trade deficit expected to widen to pounds 1.3bn from pounds 1.19bn, even after favourable performances from the oil and erratics items. Underlying import volume may edge up, while exports may be unable to sustain the recent strong performance. The visible trade deficit is forecast to widen to pounds 1.5bn from pounds 1.39bn.

There is more curiosity about current trading at MFI than its interim results, which are not strictly comparable due to last year's placing and buyout. The 1992 interims will still bear the interest charged on the buyout debt for three months (April to July) and certain flotation costs and adjustments included as exceptional items.

But MFI has had a good start to the year, with a strong surge in sales during January. Predicted profits of pounds 18m at the operating level, down by 26 per cent, assume losses of pounds 1m on property disposals against a pounds 600,000 loss last time. Sales are expected to be flat at around pounds 317m.

FRIDAY 29.1.93: US durable orders for December should bounce back from the weakness seen in November. The average forecast stands at a rise of 1 per cent, against a fall of 1.9 per cent last month.

Results: NatWest Securities. Median economic forecasts: MMS International.

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