Economic gloom fuels Cineworld's strong showing

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The Independent Online

Britain's second-biggest cinema chain, Cineworld, is likely to post strong first-half numbers this week, as punters opt for cheaper entertainment at the flicks.

The group, which operates 71 multiplex cinemas in the UK, has been buoyed by the success of films such as Slumdog Millionaire, which has earned £30m since it was released in January, as well as other blockbusters such as Yes Man and Role Models. Cinemas historically perform well during economic downturns, providing affordable escapism in times of economic gloom.

In a quiet week for the City, mining giant Rio Tinto also publishes its first-half figures. After one of the most turbulent six months in the company's history, analysts will be looking for further details on how management plans to cut its giant $23bn (£13.9bn) debt. Earlier in the year, Rio raised $15bn ina rights issue. A public listing for its US coal subsidiary is being lined up, while assets bought as part of the Alcan deal could be shed. Rio's management is currently defending itself over bribery charges against some of its Chinese executives.

Two of the UK's biggest car dealerships, Pendragon and Lookers, will also report. Investors will scrutinise the pair's numbers to assess whether the Government's car scrappage scheme has made a discernable difference to the ailing car market in Britain.