The Week Ahead: Housebuilders' updates reveal little

Is a housing market recovery in the offing? Or does the slump still have some way to go? The answer to questions such as these will set the tone when Persimmon, Redrow, Barratt Developments and Bovis Homes issue trading updates this week. Their fellow housebuilder Taylor Wimpey boosted the optimists last month, talking of "continued stability" in the market in its pre-close update. Recent data on mortgage approvals and last week's house price report from the Nationwide have added to hopes of a recovery, or at least a moderation in the pace of decline.

Yet it may be too early to tell if the sector has indeed a turned a corner. Analysts at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch suspect we will learn little in the way of additional market insight from this week's updates, "for the simple reason that the industry is entering its normal 'quieter' period". "Much more significant will be the end August to mid-September trading period which should provide a clearer indication of how strong prospective buyer interest really is," they said.

Today: Regeneration specialist St Modwen Properties is likely to confirm that the trading environment remains challenging when it posts interim results this morning, according to Numis Securities. Nonetheless, the broker does expect to hear of "tentative signs" of an improvement in residential land sales. "We continue to believe that St Modwen is a unique way to play the recovery in both commercial property and residential markets," Numis said.

Results/Updates: St Modwen Properties.

Tomorrow: Results/Updates: Cape, N Brown, Michael Page International, Quadnetics and Persimmon.

Wednesday: Numis is looking forward to an upbeat statement from Tullow Oil, the oil explorer and producer which posts a trading update mid-week. The group's recent exploration and appraisal successes in Ghana and Uganda are likely to be the focus of the statement, Numis said, sticking to its "hold" stance before the update. Also on Wednesday, Marks and Spencer's annual meeting promises to draw the headlines. Last week's trading statement should help in easing the pressure on executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose, but some institutional shareholders are still calling for his role to be split, and for an independent chairman to be appointed by July 2010.

Results/Updates: 3i and Tullow Oil. Other: Marks and Spencer's annual general meeting.

Thursday: UBS is cautious ahead of Man's first-quarter update, due later this week, warning that assets under management at the London-based hedge fund "could disappoint", owing to institutional net outflows. The broker is more positive on Charlemagne Capital, the independent investment manager which is due to publish a trading update, expecting the figures to be broadly in line with forecasts.

The third-quarter update from Associated British Foods, the owner of Primark, is likely to be largely qualitative in form, according to Citigroup, with little in the way of quantitative information. The update on Primark promises to be positive, the broker added, pointing to recent comments from the company and peers.

"Notwithstanding recent foreign exchange moves, we remain comfortable with our (consensual) 2009 earnings estimates (our analysis points to a second half foreign exchange benefit broadly comparable to that in the first half)," the broker said. "Earnings risk feels biased to the upside."

Also on Thursday, the recruitment agency Hays is due to publish a trading update. The company's quarterly permanent and temporary placement trends have closely tracked those of its rival Michael Page, according to Collins Stewart, with a lower overall rate of decline owing to its exposure to temporary placement.

Seymour Pierce makes a similar point ahead of the update, saying that while the demand for permanent staff is falling in all areas, "demand for temps is proving more resilient".

"The pace of decline in staffing activity appears to be slowing but we expect it to continue to fall in the second half of the year," Seymour Pierce said, "Hays has a more resilient business than the average because of its high level of temp exposure. When the upturn comes, it will be the temp market that reacts first."

Results/Updates: Computacenter, Hays, Associated British Foods, Charlemagne Capital, Man, Barratt Developments and Redrow.

Friday: Results/Updates: Interserve and Bovis Homes. Other: John Lewis weekly sales figures.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor