The Week Ahead: All eyes on retailers as rain takes its toll

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Today

Recent updates from the recruitment sector have not been pretty, and SThree's interim results today are unlikely to lift the mood. The group already announced last month that gross profits had risen by 12 per cent over the first half of the year, but at the same time bosses warned that the tough economic climate was hitting growth.

A bright point of the update was demand from the resources sector, so investors will be hoping that part of SThree's business will continue to provide some cheer.

Also starting off the week is Sage, which is releasing its third-quarter results. Numis Securities' David Toms notes that the accounting software company "typically produces short and largely non-quantitative IMS statements" and believes this one won't buck the trend, adding that he expects it to announce the three months were in line with expectations.

Results/Updates: Sage and SThree.

Tomorrow

Heavyweight digger Rio Tinto will be in focus on Tuesday, with the mining giant announcing its production figures for the second quarter. After its iron ore and coal output over the previous three months were knocked by the weather, RBC Capital Market's Des Kilalea is predicting production of both commodities to have improved although he is expecting little change from its copper division and none at all from aluminium.

Results/Updates: Amino Technologies, BTG, Computacenter, Dairy Crest, Hochschild Mining, IG Group, London Mining, Low & Bonar, Record and Rio Tinto.

Wednesday

Wholesaler Booker is announcing its first-quarter update on Wednesday at the same time as holding its AGM. Peel Hunt's analysts warn that tobacco sales will be poor because of the duty increase, although they add that the low margins involved means this will make very little difference to profits.

The scribblers also believe that if the company's figures do disappoint it could provide "an opportunity to buy into the potential" of Booker's recent deal to buy the UK arm of rival Makro, which they see as "transformational".

Results/Updates: BHP Billiton, Booker Fresnillo, Fuller, Smith & Turner, Land Securities, London Stock Exchange, Optos, Sagentia and Severn Trent.

Thursday

It is a big day for the retailers on Thurs-day, with a number of high street names in the spotlight.

One of them is Kingfisher, whose second-quarter pre-close update is expected to show its B&Q stores have been hit badly by our rather damp summer.

Another whose figures should look fairly rain-sodden is Halfords. The bicycles retailer is announcing its first-quarter statement, and Panmure Gordon's Philip Dorgan says it "is only a question of degree" how much it will disappoint. The analyst believes its retail like-for-like sales will be down 7 per cent and warns that he is expecting "significant downgrades to consensus to follow".

Meanwhile, Mr Dorgan expects Mothercare to announce that its UK sales fell 4.5 per cent over the first-quarter and a jump of 17 per cent from its international business,

Results/Updates: Breedon, Britvic, Halfords, Hilton Food, Howden Joinery, Kingfisher, McKay Securities, Mothercare and Sports Direct.

Friday

Vodafone's share price has had a strong run up to its first-quarter results, but the mobile phone giant is still expected to report a slowdown in growth – analysts from Citigroup predict service revenues have risen 0.5 per cent year-on-year over the period, having jumped 2.3 per cent the previous three months.

The update actually comes a day after its US partner Verizon Communications announces its latest results. There have been some fears recently about whether the two's joint venture Verizon Wireless will pay regular dividends to Vodafone, so any comments on this issue will be eagerly examined.

Results/Updates: Beazley, Cable & Wireless Communications, Close Brothers, Homeserve and Vodafone.

Economics Diary

Today Eurozone consumer price index; Eurozone trade balance; US business inventories; US Empire State manufacturing index; US retail sales.

Tomorrow Consumer price index; Eurozone ZEW economic sentiment; Office for National Statistics house price index; Retail price index; US Beige Book; US capacity utilisation rate; US consumer price index; US industrial production; US TIC long-term purchases.

Wednesday Average earnings data; Claimant count change; Release of minutes from Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee; Unemployment data; US building permits survey; US housing starts.

Thursday Eurozone current account; Retail sales; US existing home sales; US Philadelphia Federal Reserve manufacturing index; US unemployment claims.

Friday Public sector net borrowing.

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