UK growth lift as FTSE aims to test 7,000 level - London week ahead

THE FIRST estimate of GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2014 looks set to deliver good news this week, with growth of around 0.6 per cent on the previous quarter and 2.8 per cent year-on-year.

Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said: “Ongoing robust services expansion likely ensured that GDP growth held up pretty well in the fourth quarter but it was likely hampered by contracting construction activity and only modest industrial production expansion.”

Other economic news this week includes BBA mortgage approvals figures, out today, the Nationwide house prices index on Wednesday, CBI retail sales on Thursday and net lending figures on Friday.

Investors will be watching to see if the FTSE 100 can continue its late January bull run. Britain’s top index has increased by over 400 points in eight days of trading, rising from 6,388.46 on 14 January to 6,832.83 on 23 January.

Jasper Lawler from CMC Capital Markets said: “The FTSE 100 benefited from QE-inspired global risk taking as well as better-than-expected UK retail sales numbers for December that grew modestly rather than contracting as had been expected. The index has fired through 6,800 and it looks like a matter of time before a run is made at new all-time highs and perhaps 7,000.”

This week’s corporate calendar starts with final results today from Porvair and SThree and updates from Green Dragon Gas and Petra Diamonds.

Tomorrow brings a raft of results including Benchmark Holdings, Britvic, Carpetright, Crest Nicholson, EasyJet, Foxtons, Gem Diamonds, Greencore, Marston’s and PZ Cussons.

On Wednesday Brewin Dolphin, Ebiquity, Intermediate Capital, Johnson Matthey and Sage are due to report, while Antofagasta will give a production update.

On Thursday, Royal Dutch Shell is due to give its final figures and update the market on its plans to cope with the slump in oil prices. 3i Group, CPL Resources, Diageo, Euromoney, Great Portland Estates, Hansard Global, Kofax, Rank Group and Renishaw will also report and KAZ Minerals and Polymetal International are scheduled to give production reports.

On Friday BT Group will give third-quarter figures while Fuller Smith & Turner, KCOM and River and Mercantile will also report. Vedanta Resources is due to give a production report.