London Report: Economic data to confirm rapid growth this year

FIGURES released this week are expected to confirm that the economy grew at the fastest rate in nearly four years in the first quarter of 2014.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, due out on Friday, will give the third estimate of output, and is expected to increase its original 0.8 per cent reading for the quarter, to 0.9 per cent. The rise, which is driven by stronger-than-expected construction activity, means the rate would be the fastest since the second quarter of 2010 and shows the economy growing 3.2 per cent in 12 months.

IHS Global Insight’s Howard Archer said: “We currently forecast GDP growth at 3.1 per cent in 2014, but we are likely to lift this to 3.2 per cent or, very possibly, 3.3 per cent per cent if first quarter expansion is revised up. Ongoing robust news on the economy also favours a further upgrading of the growth forecast for 2014.”

In other economic news, the Bank of England’s financial policy committee meets on Thursday and is expected to set stricter mortgage rules to stave off a housing bubble.

Nationwide will also release monthly house price data, which is likely to be keenly watched after Rightmove’s recent data showed the first monthly price drop of the year.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney will be questioned by the Treasury select committee tomorrow about May’s Inflation Report, when his forward guidance on interest rates was changed.

The corporate calendar starts today with news from Porvair, followed by reports tomorrow from Carnival, Carpetright, Chemring Group, Domino Printing Sciences, Imagination Technologies Group and Petrofac.

On Wednesday Northgate and Stagecoach Group both give full-year figures.

Thursday’s reports come from Carphone Warehouse, Dixons Retail, DS Smith, Mountview Estates, Photo-Me International, Safestore, Standard Chartered, Stobart Group and Wood Group.

Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail Group annual results will be in focus, as the European Commission is on Wednesday expected to green-light their £3.6bn merger. The combined company will be called Dixons Carphone and the deal could be completed by September. More details are likely on Thursday.

Berendsen, Hornby, Serco and Stanley Gibbons round off the week with results on Friday.