Business Information Service: This week

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The Independent Online
MONDAY: Annual figures from Highland Distilleries, which owns and markets the Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark brands of whisky, is expected to see pre-tax profits evaporate from pounds 28.2m to pounds 26.9m for the year to August.

Lucas Industries, the motors and aerospace components group, is expected to report poor results for the year to July becaues of the weakness in its markets. Pre-tax profits are forecast to come in 40 per cent lower at pounds 50m ( pounds 83.6m).

Some US markets are likely to be closed for the Columbus Day holiday.

Some time during the week, German retail sales figures for August will be published, and are expected to show sales down 2.5 per cent on a year ago, compared with a fall of 4.5 per cent in the year to July.

TUESDAY: The UK producer price index for September is anticipated to show a 0.1 per cent increase on the month in output prices and be 3.2 per cent up on a year ago, down from 3.3 per cent last month. Input prices are expected to show a 0.6 per cent rise as the first effects of a weakened pound come through, after a revised 0.7 per cent fall in August.

French inflation figures for September are expected to show the consumer price index unchanged from August at 2.7 per cent.

In Italy, a four-hour general strike is planned in protest at the proposed government budget.

WEDNESDAY: The persistent decline in high-street sales volumes is likely to have hit Thorntons, the chocolate- and toffee-maker, which is expected to make pounds 9.9m ( pounds 11.6m) in pre-tax profit for the year to June.

UK industrial production figures for August are expected to have remained unchanged on the month. A 0.3 per cent fall in manufacturing output is anticipated to have been offset by stronger oil production.

US retail sales and producer price figures for September are forecast to show an increase of 0.3 per cent.

The US Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, is scheduled to give a speech in Japan as part of his four-day visit.

THURSDAY: Lloyds Chemists, the multiple chemist retailer and health food supplier, is forecast to reveal a 78 per cent improvement in pre-tax profits from pounds 19.7m to pounds 35m for the year to June, helped by acquisitions over the last 18 months. Lloyds' shares fell in July, on worries that it was growing too big too fast. The decline in the price was also brought on by fears that cuts in government payments to pharmacists for the drugs they dispense on the NHS could knock roughly pounds 5m off the group's profits.

Interim figures from Etam, the retailer, are forecast to show a healthy improvement. A 7 per cent rise in sales is expected, and tight cost controls are anticipated to translate into a boost in pre-tax profits from pounds 100,000 to pounds 1.3m for the 28 weeks to August.

Another sharp rise in UK unemployment is expected for September. The seasonally adjusted total is forecast to increase by 38,000, compared with 47,700 in August.

Average wage increases for August are expected to fall from 6 per cent in July to 5.75 per cent.

The US consumer price index is expected to have increased by 0.2 per cent in September.

FRIDAY: A US merchandise trade deficit of dollars 7.3bn is expected for August, down from dollars 7.8bn in July, while industrial production is expected to have fallen by 0.4 per cent in September.

Company results: County NatWest Woodmac. Median economic forecasts: MMS International.