Budget week will see Italy, inflation and retail in focus

I anticipate a quiet start to the week, with a lack of economic announcements from the UK and the US. All eyes are likely to focus on the Eurozone as we get further indication of the health of one of its largest economies. Italy reports industrial order and sales numbers at 9am for January. The recent trend for these has been negative but any uptick is likely to be received well by traders.

UK CPI and RPI are due at 9.30am. Market participants will be looking for a steer on where inflation is heading. Both have been forecast to move lower on a year-on-year basis, giving the Bank of England further breathing room with monetary policy.

Cairn Energy reports full-year numbers. Having reduced its exposure in India and returned a significant amount of cash to investors, attention is on its progress in the Arctic region.

On Budget day, a number of stocks go ex-dividend: Aviva (16p), InterContinental Hotels (24.7p), Millennium & Copthorne (10.4p dividend plus 4p special cash payout), Standard Life (9.2p), Smiths Group (11.75p) and Segro (9.9p).

Bank of England minutes are due at 9.30am. Analysts will be watching closely for any clue on how dovish or hawkish the MPC members are.

Results due: J. Sainsbury (fourth quarter), Imperial Tobacco (second quarter) and Premier Foods (full year).

It’s all about retailers, with February UK retail sales numbers announced at 9.30am. Month-on-month figures are expected to dip slightly, but the annual trend should creep higher. Any improvement in these numbers is likely to read across positively into the share price of retail stocks.

Kingfisher reports full-year numbers. Recent comments from the chief executive indicate that he is more optimistic about the UK, while France could begin to turn around after recent measures by the ECB.

Retailer Next reports full-year numbers. It has bucked the trend as it continues to power onwards and upwards. Good management along with efficient handling of cash and selling goods that the consumer wants should stand it in good stead.

A further sign of an improving economy across the pond is likely to come in the form of new home sales figures. With unemployment and retail sales showing an upward bias, market watchers will be looking for recovery in the housing market. Any uptick could be received well by investors as further proof of the US’s resilience.

Manoj Ladwa, professional trader at ETX Capital, is running an open long/short portfolio using his systematic trading method and keeping a daily blog on its performance. To follow Manoj’s trading journey more closely go to: www.etxcapital.co.uk/manoj