The Week Ahead: It’s going to be a quiet week, with many investors having already packed up for the festive season

Most companies have managed to get their trading updates or results out of the way

Time for traders to crack open the sherry and put their feet up; it’s going to be a quiet week with the financial markets winding down for Christmas.

The trading week will last until 12.30pm on Christmas Eve on Thursday, and will remain closed the following day for Christmas Day. Trading volumes are expected to be lower than normal, with many investors having already packed up for the festive season.

That might encourage the start of the so-called Santa Rally, when stocks traditionally rise from the middle of December into the new year, especially with the US Federal Reserve reassuring investors with a first interest rate rise in nine years. However, with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel for oil and metals prices, there are concerns that investors could miss out on the sleigh ride north this year.

Chris Beauchamp, a market analyst at IG, said: “Stock markets will be trading mostly on sentiment, and while we have seen some of the post-Fed rally unwind, there is still time for markets to rally ahead of Christmas.”

Most companies have managed to get their trading updates or results out of the way, but there are still a couple of releases to look out for.

Broadcaster STV is due to update investors on trading tomorrow for the first time since August’s half-year results, when it revealed that revenues had dipped by 2 per cent to £53.6m and operating profits had fallen by 12 per cent to £8.6m.

Across the Atlantic, sports superbrand Nike reports its second-quarter results tomorrow. Traders are expecting earnings per share of 85 cents on sales of $7.8bn (£5.2bn), and Nike has a lot to live up to, having surpassed Wall Street’s earnings expectations for the past nine quarters.

Elsewhere, Betfair and Paddy Power shareholders will vote in Dublin on the £5bn merger of the two betting groups. The deal, which is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of next year, received the green light from the UK’s competition watchdog last week.

Since the tie-up plans were unveiled, shares in both companies have soared.

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