LONDON REPORT

UK investors are set for a busy week with a slew of earnings both here and on Wall Street, the release of Britain’s quarterly GDP rate and a decision from the Fed on the US Bank rate.

Both the Nationwide Housing Prices report and Nationwide Consumer Confidence report are due out this week and today’s news is also set to include the Eurozone PMI report.

Tomorrow sees the latest report on the UK’s public borrowing with March finances data completing the full-year picture for borrowing in 2011-12. The government borrowed £15.2bn in February, far exceeding expectations, and Office for National Statistics data are expected to show it borrowed a further £16bn in March.

Tomorrow’s news will centre on an interim report from Associated British Foods and quarterly updates from ARM Holdings, BBA Aviation, Carpetright and Reed Elsevier. All eyes will turn to the US for Apple’s trading report after hours.

Wednesday will bring the all-important UK report on first quarter GDP, which is set to show whether Britain has slipped into recession again. If the number is negative, Britain is back in a technical recession following a 0.3 per cent fall in gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2011. Economists predict that Britain will narrowly avoid a recession with just 0.1 per cent growth in the first three months of the year. However, weaker-than-expected construction figures have made the outcome difficult to predict.

The CBI Business optimism report is also due on Wednesday, as well as reports from GlaxoSmithKline, Virgin Media, Capital Shopping Centres Group, Standard Life, Stagecoach and Premier Foods.

Aggreko will host its annual general meeting, with investors keen to hear whether it has sustained growth in the second quarter.

In the US, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will announce its rate decision.

On Thursday, the CBI Distributive Trades report is set to be released. It is a busy day for trading updates, with a final report from Whitbread, plus quarterly figures from AstraZeneca, Royal Dutch Shell, Shire, Unilever, British American Tobacco, Taylor Wimpey, Kazakhmys, ASOS, Megitt, Admiral Group and Barclays.

Economists expect Barclays to announce a quarterly profit of £2bn, up more than £300m on the same period in 2011 as it benefits from a resurgence in earnings from its investment bank.

Analysts expect the bank’s investment banking arm, until recently called Barclays Capital, will have made a pre-tax profit for the first quarter of £1.3bn as it has profited amid tough conditions and a lack of deals for wholesale banks.

Barclays is also likely to face a fiery annual general meeting on Friday, with its remuneration report at the top of the agenda. Friday also sees annual meetings for Pearson and Alliance Trust plus the release of the GfK Consumer Confidence report, and trading updates from Aegis and WPP. Results from the world’s biggest advertising are keenly awaited after it posted profits above £1bn for the first time in 2011.