London Report: Cheer for UK as real pay up and inflation falling

BRITAIN’S economy is set to put the recession firmly behind this week with news of the first real wage growth in four years and falling unemployment.

Inflation and unemployment data are expected to show wage growth in March beating inflation.

Capital Economics’ Paul Hollingsworth said: “The latest earnings data should show that the squeeze on real pay is now over.

“Survey measures of workers’ pay continue to point to a strong pick-up in earnings growth. We expect the headline (three-month average) rate to increase to 1.9 per cent above CPI (consumer price index) inflation of 1.7 per cent the same month.”

Unemployment figures, due to be released on Wednesday, promise more good news.

Barclays’ Blerina Uruci said: “We expect February labour activity data to support our view of steady, albeit more moderate, improvement.

“We forecast the February unemployment rate to have edged down to 7.1 per cent. We expect the March claimant count measure (a more timely indicator) to have fallen by 29,000.”

The corporate calendar starts today with updates from MP Evans Group and Carrs Milling Industries.

Tomorrow Amara Mining and JD Sports Fashion will give full-year figures, while Aggreko, Debenhams, Energy Assets Group, GKN, Hochschild Mining, Michael Page International, Rio Tinto and SABMiller will update the market.

Supermarket giant Tesco is scheduled to give its final figures on Wednesday, with analysts forecasting a drop in profits.

Burberry Group, Dialight, Fresnillo, Evraz, Hargreaves Lansdown, Hunting, Noble Corporation, Persimmon and Reckitt Benckiser are also set to report that day.

Analysts said Burberry is likely to show sales growth, but the entire luxury sector is suffering a downturn.

Barclays analysts said: “Burberry has shown impressive like-for-like sales growth of 13 per cent YTD in a very difficult soft luxury market – materially outperforming peers. This is likely to be tested in Q4 2014 (to March) in a tough market and against the most difficult comp of the year, with peers including Prada and Tod’s suggesting that Calendar Q1 (first quarter) is disappointing.”

On Thursday Diageo, Ferrexpo, Lavendon Group and NCC Group are all expected to give trading updates.

CORRECTION: The printed version of this article included Polymetal International in Wednesday's results. The company has changed its reporting date and is due to release its Q1 production figures on 22 April.