Week ahead in business and economics: Dec 17-21

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ECONOMICS

Households are expected to be given a little Christmas cheer in the form of falling inflation on Tuesday, but the decline is not expected to be much from 2.7pc for October to 2.6pc for November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) . Economists are bound to remind everyone that it won’t last. A combination of rising utility bills and food prices is expected to push it above 3pc in the New Year.

The inflation figures will frame Wednesday’s minutes to the rate-setting meeting, which are expected to show that only one committee member voted for more quantitative easing this month. The final estimate of third quarter GDP growth will also be relatively positive. The 1pc miracle is likely to persist, or at least only fall to 0.9pc.

Meanwhile, public borrowing data is also forecast to show some improvement, with borrowing of around £15.5bn in November about £1.1bn less than last year. There may be some muddying of the waters caused by the Royal Mail pension scheme and the QE cash grab.

= Tuesday is judgment day for Comet. =

The administrators to the electrical retailer have said that in the absence of a firm offer by December 18 they will have to close Comet’s remaining stores.

The prospects of a rescue deal are not strong, meaning that the 5,000 or so staff still working for Comet all face losing their jobs before Christmas.

The south coast entrepreneur Clive Coombes has held talks with Deloitte about buying 180 stores, but there are doubts about the financing of his proposals.

A more likely outcome is that the Comet brand and website are acquired by a retailer potentially Appliances Online and that about 20 Comet stores are picked-up by rivals such as Dixons.

Comet management called in administrators in November after the private investment firm OpCapita decided to pull financial support because suppliers tightened their terms in the run-up to Christmas trading.

OpCapita, founded by Henry Jackson, has been criticised by employees angry at the demise of Comet.

CORPORATE RESULTS

Monday December 17

• London & Stamford Property will hold a general meeting today to seek shareholder approval for its proposed £209m merger with developer Metric Property Investments, which owns British retail parks and supermarkets.

Under the terms of the deal, London & Stamford (Berlin: 43L.BE - news) investors will own 75pc of the resulting company, which is to be named LondonMetric Property, with Metric shareholders owning the rest.

• Aggreko (Berlin: 4A4.BE - news) , the temporary power supplier, will update the market on trading and it is likely to be a mixed statement with good and bad. The company will cite the Olympics as a highlight of the year in the pre-close update, with the Games providing it with a £59m contract.

In October Aggreko said trading was in line with its expectations and that margins were likely to be similar to those achieved last year, but only alongside a profits alert.

It said that a detrimental change in exchange rates and an increase in bad debt provisions was likely to shave around 2.5pc off its anticipated profits for the year. The City will be looking for any further news on these fronts and is likely to maintain a cautious stance.

Full-year results None scheduled

Interim results F&C Global Smaller Companies

Trading update Aggreko

Economics European Central Bank president Mario Draghi addresses European Parliament

Meetings Aeorema Communications (AGM), London & Stamford Property (EGM), Physiomics (LSE: PYC.L - news) (AGM)

= Tuesday December 18 =

Full-year results Armour Group (LSE: AMR.L - news) , Hiwave Technologies

Interim results Park Group (LSE: PKG.L - news)

Trading update Keller Group, Petrofac (Berlin: P2F.BE - news)

Economics UK inflation, Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin

Meetings Henderson Far East Income, NCC Group (LSE: NCC.L - news) (EGM), Quarto Group (LSE: QRT.L - news) (EGM), Schroder Income Growth Fund (AGM)

= Wednesday December 19 =

• Sportingbet (LSE: SBT.L - news) , the online gambling group which is a bid target of bookmaker William Hill (Other OTC: WIMHF.PK - news) , holds its annual general meeting today. The focus is likely to be on the takeover approach tabled by Hill and its smaller partner GVC Holdings. The Takeover Panel has set a deadline of December 18, the day before the AGM, for a formal offer to be made.

That deadline has been extended twice, with Hill having suggested three different prices for Sportingbet. An offer of 52.5p a share was originally proposed and rejected by the target. A higher offer of 61.1p was then revised down following a disappointing trading update from Sportingbet.

Full-year results None scheduled

Interim results None scheduled

Trading update: JZ Capital Partners

Economics Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee minutes to rates meeting, US third quarter GDP

Meetings Cupid (EGM), Invensys (EUREX: ISYF.EX - news) (EGM), Kedco (LSE: KED.L - news) (AGM), Sportingbet (AGM)

= Thursday December 20 =

Full-year results Carnival (LSE: CCL.L - news)

Interim results None scheduled

Trading update None scheduled

Economics UK third-quarter GDP final revision, business investment, public finances, GfK (Xetra: 587530 - news) consumer confidence

Meetings GCM Resources (AGM), JPMorgan Japanese Investment Trust (AGM), Mothercare (LSE: MTC.L - news) (EGM), Max Petroleum (Other OTC: MXPTF.PK - news) (EGM)

= Friday December 21 =

• Skyepharma (Berlin: SK8C.BE - news) will ask shareholders to approve a new long-term incentive plan (LTIP) during its EGM today, to help “motivate” and “retain” senior executives.

The drugs company is proposing to award Peter Grant, the new chief executive, an initial award under the LTIP in 2012 of 110pc of his annual base salary; 10pc higher than any normal award limit.

The extra level is because there have been no LTIPs granted since 2009, and will be subject to “stretching performance targets”, the company said in a note to shareholders before the EGM.

In future years, the normal award limit will be set at 100pc, although awards are anticipated at 75pc or below annual base salary.

However, in exceptional circumstances, such as recruitment or retention, awards could be granted at up to 200pc, the company said.

Full-year results None scheduled

Interim results None scheduled

Trading update None scheduled

Economics None scheduled

Meetings Berkeley Mineral Resources (AGM), Mining Investments Resources (AGM), Monitise (Berlin: AC4.BE - news) (EGM), Skyepharma (EGM)