Figures to show the state of the UK economy as Davos meeting begins

FIGURES this week from the Office for National Statistics will reveal whether the UK economy shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012 and over the year as a whole.

“We expect the economy to have contracted by 0.2 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of last year which would limit year-on-year growth to 0.2 per cent,” said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.

The statistics, which will be released on Friday, end a week filled with economic news.

Tomorrow’s releases include public sector borrowing for December plus CBI trends and business optimism figures for January.

Wednesday’s news includes the minutes from the most recent Bank of England meeting, plus UK employment figures for December. On Thursday BBA loans for house purchase figures for December will be published, along with CBI reported sales figures for this month.

Meanwhile Prime Minister David Cameron will be joining the world’s financial and political elite at the 2013 gathering of the World Economic Forum starting on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland.

Cameron is named as one of the headline speakers at the annual conference, along with German chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian prime minister Mario Monti and Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev.

In corporate news, the week starts with an interim report from City of London Investment Group plus trading announcements from Afren and Pearson.

Tomorrow brings final results from Nord Gold plus third quarter figures from SABMiller, the beer giant that makes Peroni and Grolsch.

“Investors will be looking for any signs of growth from SABMiller’s emerging market operations. Growth in China will be of particular interest due to the slowing of its economic growth last year, volumes in the region now account for 24 per cent of SABMiller’s sales,” said Sheridan Admans, investment research manager at The Share Centre.

On Wednesday consumer goods giant Unilever will be one of Britain’s first major companies to report its full-year figures for 2012. More updates are also expected from Close Brothers, WH Smith, Britvic, Findel, Land Securities, Sage Group and Biome Technologies.

Thursday sees figures from PayPoint, London Stock Exchange Group, Fuller Smith & Turner, Invensys, Carphone Warehouse Group, AG Barr and easyJet.

Meanwhile Chemring, the defence and aerospace equipment maker, will announce its full-year results, updating investors after a difficult year that has included two profit warnings and a change of chief executive.

Friday is a busy day for annual general meetings, with Henderson European Focus Trust, Infrastrata and Scottish Widows Investment Trust set to meet.