Business Information Service: This Week

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MONDAY: Half-year pre-tax profits from Argos, the catalogue retailer, are forecast to show a 21 per cent fall to pounds 8.5m on increased turnover of pounds 336m ( pounds 320.7m) for the period to June.

The latest CBI distributive trades survey is likely to provide the first clues on how UK retailers fared in July.

TUESDAY: Hickson International, the chemicals group, is expected to reap the benefits of the cost-cutting measures, rationalisation and disposal programme it underwent last year. Pre-tax profits are forecast to rise from pounds 10.2m to pounds 16m for the half-year to June.

Interim pre-tax profits from Micro Focus are predicted to rise to pounds 10.5m ( pounds 9m) in the six months to June, helped by a sustained demand for its products that is expected to increase turnover by 28 per cent to pounds 31.3m.

Six-month results from Sedgwick are expected to reflect the problems it is experiencing in the US. An 8 per cent decline in pre-tax profit to pounds 60m ( pounds 65.3m) is forecast.

The Bank of England's Quarterly Bulletin is published.

The UK's public sector borrowing requirement figure for July is expected to show a relatively small dollars 400m ( pounds 212m) deficit.

In Washington, the FOMC, the Federal Reserve's policy-making arm meets but is not expected to agree any immediate change in interest rates.

WEDNESDAY: A decline in pre-tax profits from pounds 65.9m to pounds 58m is expected from BICC for the half-year to June as pricing pressure on cabling continues on the European continent.

The interim announcement from Britannic Assurance for the six months to June is expected to reveal only a 14 per cent increase in dividend growth to 10.5p. No group profit will be disclosed.

Marley, the building materials group, is forecast to report lower pre- tax profits of pounds 7.5m for the six months to June, in view of the depressed state of the building industry.

Reduced demand for pipes from the water industry and British Gas is expected to marginally dent pre-tax profits at Victaulic from pounds 6.9m to pounds 6.8m in the six months to June.

UK retail sales are not expected to have changed in July. The figures are forecast to be 0.1 per cent lower than a year ago, against a rise of 0.4 per cent in the year to June.

Meanwhile, a fall of 0.2 per cent is forecast for UK gross domestic product, which would be the eighth consecutive quarterly fall and leave GDP 0.8 per cent lower than a year ago.

A US trade deficit of dollars 6.5bn is expected, compared with dollars 7.4bn in May.

THURSDAY: Half-year pre-tax profits from Rentokil, the environmental services and property group, are forecast to rise from pounds 42.3m to pounds 50.4m for the period to June.

Willis Corroon is expected to announce a slight fall in half-year pre-tax profits to pounds 64m ( pounds 69.4m) for the period to June, suffering from the impact of dollar interest rates.

The meeting of the the German Bundesbank Council is not expected to produce any policy changes.

UK money supply figures are expected to show a record recovery growth in the narrow M0 measure of 2.2 per cent in the year to July, following a 1.3 per cent contraction in the year to June. However, the recovery is not seen to be associated with any pick- up in economic activity. Growth of the broad M4 measure is forecast to be little changed at 5.3 per cent against 5.4 per cent in June, while M4 bank lending is thought to have remained relatively subdued at pounds 2.9bn compared with pounds 2.5bn in June.

FRIDAY: No major announcements.

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

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