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Investors hope for further optimism

THERE has been a noticeable air of optimism about the markets lately, and investors will be looking for signs to validate their cheer. <strong>Premier Foods</strong>, kicking the week off today with its first half trading statement, should not disappoint. <br /><br />Analysts at Royal Bank of Scotland anticipate that Premier will reiterate good sales growth, costs under control and integration synergies being realised, leaving it on track to meet expectations for the year.<br /><br />Also today, fashion retailer <strong>ASOS</strong> will report its full-year results and is expected to show that the on-line model continues to gain popularity, with its international sales being bolstered by the weak pound.<br /><br />Tomorrow will see full-year figures from <strong>Carpetright</strong>, and investors will hope for an indication that the recent, albeit slight, improvement in the state of the property market is going to boost sales moving forward.<br /><br />Numis expects full-year pre-tax profit of &pound;16.5m, compared to consensus estimates of &pound;18.3m, and earnings per share of 23.3p.<br /><br /><strong>HMV</strong>&rsquo;s finals should be accompanied by an update on the progress of Waterstones&rsquo; supply chain reorganisation, on Zavvi store acquisitions, the outlook by product category and some insight on new initiative such as ticketing and gaming centres.<br /><br />Deutsche Bank notes that HMV has already guided the pre-tax profit will be at the upper end of &pound;50.3m to &pound;63.7m compared with the broker's estimate of &pound;62.4m. Deutsche forecasts earnings per share of 10.9p with a flat dividend per share of 7.4p. <br /><strong><br />Marks &amp; Spencer</strong> will give its first quarter interim management statement on Wednesday, and is expected to show that the underlying trends have improved across both clothing and food.