How very honest. Even the most bullish economist reckons the UK economy is flat-lining and we get another chance to see just how short a distance George has travelled with a string of economic announcements this week.
The British Retail Consortium sales monitor (out Monday night) is expected to show muted sales for July (apparently there's been some bad weather) with optimists hoping that a few punters were moved to stock up on the beer and crispy snacks as the nation's couch potatoes limbered up for the Games.
Tuesday will also see industrial production numbers for June, and those figures are sure to be knocked by the month's two-day public holiday. "The only question is just how dire will the industrial production figures for June be?" muses IHS economist Howard Archer, which makes a cheery segue into Wednesday's Bank of England quarterly inflation report.
There the Bank will do what it does best – and revise its previous guesses on inflation and growth. All of which will leave it with the option of another monetary stimulus, just to try to get things moving again.
Mining merger questions remain
A big week for the big miners, with Xstrata reporting on Tuesday and Rio Tinto following them up on Wednesday. Both have been hit by a sluggish market for metals and minerals, with fears that demand from China – which has powered the sector – might slide further as its economic growth falters. However, while many analysts reckon that shares in both companies have been showing signs of perking up a little of late, pointing to attractive yields on both stocks, all that technical talk is largely academic, as only one big question remains: will Xstrata still be an independent by the end of the year ?
Glencore's proposed takeover of Xstrata still lurks in the background and even though analysts don't expect an update this week, it looks precariously balanced. The cheeky move by the Qataris to build a 10% Xstrata stake and then demand better terms may still be an issue, but with the shares now at much lower levels, many investors might feel that they can rebuff Glencore without damaging their own investment. City scribblers at Liberum also question whether Glencore's owners would bid more. Crunch time approaches.
A taste for Greggs
For investors – just as for many of its customers – high-street baker Greggs has become something of a guilty pleasure.
We scoff our way through 140m of its sausage rolls each year, and City analysts seem to like what the baker has to offer too – with one such fan being Shore Capital's Clive Black, hardly a loyal supporter of food retailers (though he may have indulged in the odd product).
The weak performance on the high street on the back of all the usual weather and consumer spending excuses are the typical reasons for avoiding these companies, but within that depressed scenario Greggs seems to have a decent enough story to tell, with plenty of new store openings to go alongside fresh places to sell its products, such as Moto service stations.
We'll hear that all again this week when the company updates the market. Yet despite Black pencilling in like-for-like sales in the second half of the year that look flatter than a chapati (the same could also be said of the group's share price graph), Black still reckons that Greggs' 'sales growth' and 'strong balance sheet' make it his "positive play, for now".
Just like a weight-watcher caught with a jam doughnut – it's best to have a convincing explanation ready.
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