All eyes on the Bank after quiet start to UK week



AFTER the long Easter weekend the UK corporate reporting calendar is looking fairly quiet this week, with Babcock kicking things off with a pre-close trading update tomorrow.

The FTSE 100 support services firm is fresh from being named as preferred bidder on £440m worth of contracts at Heathrow, and investors will be hoping for an optimistic update on its growing order book.

In economic news, both the Bank of England’s latest household lending data and the UK manufacturing PMI are due today, with credit conditions and construction data due tomorrow and the services PMI on Thursday.

Thursday will also mark the first meeting of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) since chancellor George Osborne delivered his Budget on 20 March.

Though economists expect the MPC members to give the go-ahead for £25bn more in quantitative easing sometime during the second quarter, whether or not they fire the trigger as early this week is likely to depend on the three PMI surveys.

“We actually think the odds are 50:50 as to whether the MPC go for another £25bn of quantitative easing at their April meeting,” said Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight.

Meanwhile, Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll will tomorrow hand over the reins of the FTSE 100 mining giant to Mark Cutifano, having told shareholders last October that she would step down after five years in charge.

The incoming boss, brought in from rival AngloGold Ashanti, will face a number of challenges in his new role, including the ongoing restructuring at Anglo American Platinum and spiralling costs at the firm’s Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil.

Domino’s Pizza will issue its interim management statement for the first quarter on Thursday, with investors hoping that the recent bad weather will have seen more people stay in and order takeaway food.

Analysts at Panmure Gordon, who have a sell rating and target price of 360p on the stock, are expecting an improvement in trading over the past few weeks, forecasting around three per cent growth in like-for-like UK sales.

However, they expect the pizza chain to face an uphill struggle during the second quarter to match last year’s performance, which was boosted by both the Diamond Jubilee and Euro 2012.

The short week will come to a close on Friday with an pre-close trading update from EasyJet, its first since flying into the FTSE 100 in mid-March.