Retail sales on way up as trade deficit narrows - London Report

DATA out this week might just provide some reasons to be cheerful, with retail sales numbers expected to show healthy growth during May.

The British Retail Consortium sales monitor is expected to show strong year-on-year retail sales growth in May in data out tomorrow.

According to Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight, this would “fuel hope that buoyant consumer spending could help the UK economy regain appreciable momentum in the second quarter”.

Tomorrow also sees data published on the trade deficit, which is expected to have narrowed to £2.4bn in April from £2.8bn in March.

However, Archer warned that the strength of the pound against the euro “threatens to continue to constrain the upside for UK manufacturing exports to the Eurozone”, with surveys from manufacturing purchasing managers and the CBI supporting this view.

And IHS said the recent trade data has been disappointing overall. While overall exports of goods and services rose 0.7 per cent month-on-month in March itself, they nevertheless fell 2.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of the year. Meanwhile, imports fell a lesser 1.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

In addition, industrial production is likely to have seen modest growth of 0.2 per cent month-on-month in April, bringing its year-on-year growth to 0.5 per cent.

Latest survey evidence on the UK’s manufacturing sector has been somewhat lacklustre. 

In a recent survey of purchasing managers, overall manufacturing expansion was said to have improved modestly in May, having been at a seven-month low in April.

Specifically, the overall index – published by research giant Markit – improved to 52 in May from 51.8 in April which points to pretty modest manufacturing expansion given that a reading of 50 indicates flat activity. 

In the corporate calendar this week, today sees Drax Group and Falkland Island Holdings report.

CML Microsystems will update the market tomorrow, while Sainsbury’s, First Group and Flybe Group will all report on Wednesday.

Home Retail Group, Atkins, PZ Cussons and Mulberry Group will release numbers on Thursday, while Friday sees Bonmarche Holdings report.

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