UK to find out if it avoided triple dip recession

ECONOMISTS are waiting with bated breath to hear whether or not the UK avoided a triple dip recession – another two consecutive periods of contraction.

The Office for National Statistics will on Thursday give its first estimate of whether the economy grew or not in the first quarter of this year.

“We expect zero growth on the quarter, following the 0.3 per cent drop in the fourth quarter,” predicted Simon Hayes, of Barclays.

“Although this points to a sizeable chance that the estimate will be negative – an outturn that would condemn the economy to an official triple-dip recession – we see the risk to our forecast as skewed slightly to the upside. In any case, an outturn close to zero is likely to keep the MPC on edge.

Also in the spotlight this week will be Barclays, which is the first of Britain’s biggest lenders to give its first quarter report.

Consensus estimates forecast the bank will post adjusted pre-tax profits of £1.85bn, with the group’s investment bank generating profits of about £1.3bn.

After the report on Wednesday, shareholders will have the chance to quiz management about the progress of the business on Thursday at the annual general meeting.

Dillistone Group kicks off this week’s corporate calendar with a full-year report, while Creston and Reckitt Benckiser are due to give trading updates.

Tomorrow Lidco Group will give full-year earnings while Associated British Foods and Next Fifteen Communications announce interim reports. Trading updates are due from ARM Holdings, Aveva, Carpetright, Dragon Oil, Petropavlovsk, Premier Foods and Segro.

On Wednesday N Brown will deliver its full-year report, while interim results are due from Fenner.

Barclays, Computacenter, DS Smith, Elan Corporation, Gem Diamonds, GlaxoSmithKline, LHR Airports, Pace, Redrow, Reed Elsevier, Sports Direct International, Standard Life, Thorntons and UBM are also all due to update the market.

On Thursday Camellia, Huntsworth and Toumaz are set to give full-year reports while Spirit Pub Company will serve up interim figures.

Trading updates are due from Admiral, Aer Lingus, AstraZeneca, Biome Technologies, British American Tobacco, Cobham, Croda International, Dialight, Elementis, Filtrona, Go-Ahead, Icon, International Ferro Metals, International Personal Finance, Kazakhmys, Mecom, Senior, SVG Capital, Taylor Wimpey, Trinity Biotech and Unilever.

Colt Group, Global Health Partner, Rotork, Ultra Electronics Holdings, and WPP will all report on Friday.