Oil and drugs dominate in UK as third quarter results begin

FOCUS will turn away from economic data and bank profits this week, with the spotlight now on oil titans, who will dominate the corporate reporting this week.<br /><br />FTSE 100 life assurance group Friends Provident kicks the week off today with a trading update, but industry giants BP, BG Group and Shell will be the big news, as each&nbsp; reports their third quarter results. <br /><br />Year-on-year comparisons might be tricky, as the oil price averaged $115 per barrel for the third quarter last year, while 2009&rsquo;s is nearer $70.<br /><br />But a small boost is nevertheless expected from the second quarter of this year, particularly as BP &ndash; due to report on Tuesday &ndash; ups its operations, giving more momentum to the sector. <br /><br />BG is set to update on whether it will sell off its power generating assets, which could strengthen its balance sheet after the &pound;2bn acquisition of Queensland Gas Company last year.<br /><br />Shell, whose data is out on Thursday, will deliver figures and speak out on its Nigerian output, which has been hit by violence in the area. <br /><br />It is a big week for pharmaceuticals too, with GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca putting out third quarter numbers on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. <br /><br />&ldquo;In the background for both companies, major US rivals are still implementing mergers and acquisitions,&rdquo; Hargreaves Lansdown said in a note. &ldquo;Speculation still persists as to how GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca could fit into ongoing consolidation,&rdquo; it added.&nbsp; <br /><br />Reckitt Benckiser, which dabbles in medicines, but specialises in keeping our homes spotless with products like Cillit Bang, Mr Sheen, Calgon and Vanish, reports on Tuesday. <br /><br />It should be good news &ndash; Reckitt Benckiser&rsquo;s stocks have been some of the best performing over the last 10 years. <br /><br />British American Tobacco&rsquo;s (BAT) shares have also outperformed, more than doubling in the past five years. <br /><br />It will put out its third quarters on Wednesday, having become embroiled in allegations that Imperial Tobacco Canada destroyed evidence proving the addictive and harmful results of smoking.&nbsp; <br /><br />Prudential, Arm Holdings and WPP are all expected to put out corporate announcements this week. <br /><br />Economics-wise, further house price data is scheduled for Thursday, following October data from Rightmove. Previous figures showed sale prices in London rose by 6.5 per cent in October, with a shortage of properties for sale a core factor.<br />