Market to eye consumer purse while MPC mulls rates

THIS week will be all about consumers&rsquo; purse-strings and just how tightly they are pulled. Results from across the retail and leisure sectors will go some way to answering that question, while the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee&rsquo;s decision on interest rates and quantitative easing will tell us what the experts think about any signs of a recovery.<br /><br />First up is Primark owner <strong>Associated British Foods</strong> (ABF), which will give its trading update today. It is expected to demonstrate strong like-for-like sales growth at the budget fashion chain as consumers opt for bargain-hunting over designer-label.<br /><br />This should help to balance what is forecast to be a mixed update on ABF&rsquo;s food operations.<br /><br />Also giving a trading statement today is <strong>Whitbread</strong>, which had initially looked set to benefit from the downturn, with strong sales in its Premier Inns budget hotel chain. But it reported an eight per cent drop in revenues in the 13 weeks to end of May. Investors will hope to see some signs of a recovery at Premier Inns, coupled with resilience at its Costa Coffee chain and Beefeater pubs.<br /><br />Tomorrow will see pub operator <strong>Greene King</strong> also update the market, and analysts expect sales at its managed pubs to have risen, while revenues at tenanted pubs are forecast to be lower.<br /><br />The UK&rsquo;s fourth-largest supermarket, <strong>Wm Morrison</strong> has its interim results on the same day. &ldquo;Arguably the supermarket winner from the economic crisis to date&rdquo;, according to Hargreaves Lansdown has been stealing market share from rivals such as Tesco and should therefore report profit growth.<br /><br />Housebuilders <strong>Redrow</strong> and <strong>Galliford Try</strong> will report their finals on Thursday, and their outlook for the coming year will be closely watched for any suggestion of an upturn in the beleaguered sector.<br /><br /><strong>Home Retail</strong>, owner of Argos and Homebase, and Comet-parent Kesa will finish the week off for retailers. Home Retail will provide its second-quarter trading update, which the market expects to be &ldquo;neutral&rdquo; in tone, whilst Kesa should update on cost cutting.<br /><br />Last orders for the week will come from <strong>JD Wetherspoon</strong>, which is likely to have seen around a 20 per cent rise in profits over the year, driven by sales in its cut-price pubs and looser regulation on fruit machines.