Post-Christmas set to be quiet still, markets eye festive trading updates in early January

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The post-Christmas week looks set to be a quiet one again as traders enjoy the festive period and look to lockdown New Year celebrations, while the first week of January will begin to see the news cycle pick up again with trading updates expected from some of the UK’s biggest retailers.

Meanwhile, the macro calendar will also be relatively light ahead of the New Year, although attention will likely return in the first full week of January with a selection of UK and US PMI readings as well as the all-important US non-farm payrolls data on January 8.

Retailers report on festive trading

January 5 is scheduled to see a trading update from clothing retailer Next PLC (LON:NXT) which should provide investors with some insight into how the firm has fared over a festive season beset by lockdown measures and store closures.

The company previously upgraded its profit forecasts for the full year after the third-quarter was boosted by its online operation, so investors will be hoping it has performed a similar feat across the last few months of 2020 as lockdown measures have kept customers at home.

Next previously forecast a full-year pre-tax profit of £365mln while net debt was also projected to fall by £487mln to £625mln, so shareholders will be watching to see if the latest round of disruptions has caused any alteration to these numbers.

Also delivering an update that day will be grocery group WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), which may have fared better than many retailers during lockdown as the government restrictions drive people’s cash away from other closed outlets and into supermarket coffers.

UK supermarkets enjoyed their best month ever in November, boosted by early Christmas shopping and a second national coronavirus lockdown, so investors will be hoping this has continued over the similarly locked down festive period on top of the usual boost at this time of year.

There may also be interest in the progress of Morrison’s partnership with Amazon, which allows consumers to order its groceries and other products for delivery through the e-commerce giant’s platform.

Greggs issues fresh update

On January 6, bakery chain Greggs PLC (LON:GRG) will issue a trading update for its fourth quarter, although the figures may bring little festive cheer for the firm as it continues to review possible job cuts, with recent lockdown measures unlikely to improve the situation as its branches are likely to have closed in multiple areas.

With this in mind, investors may instead hope the company’s sales have not been hit too badly, as well as its outlook for the coming months and any changes to its long-term strategy.

Barratt eyed for housing market situation

Housebuilder Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) will issue an update on January 8, with investors likely to watch for any comment on how the recent lockdown measures have affected the company’s construction activity as well as any impact on its order numbers.

Shareholders will also be interested in the company’s outlook for the year ahead, particularly with the UK’s stamp duty holiday due to come to an end shortly which may impact buying activity across the market.

In an update in mid-October, Barratt noted that assuming no further national lockdowns took place, private sales should total between 14,500 and 15,000 homes in the year to June 2021 with around a further 650 completions from joint ventures. However, seeing as the last few months have seen ever more restrictive lockdown measures brought in to contain the spread of COVID-19, investors will be seeing if this forecast can be maintained.

Significant announcements expected for the two weeks ending January 8, 2021:

Monday December 28:

Boxing Day: UK markets closed; US markets open

Tuesday December 29:

Finals: Fulham Shore PLC (LON:FUL)

AGMs: SkinBioTherapeutics PLC (LON:SBTX)

Economic data: US consumer confidence

Wednesday December 30:

AGMs: Eco Atlantic Oil & Gas Ltd (LON:ECO), Plexus Holdings Plc (LON:POS)

Economic data: US Chicago PMI

Thursday December 31:

New Years Eve: UK markets half-day; US markets full day

AGMs: Iconic Labs PLC (LON:ICON)

Economic data: US jobless claims

Friday January 1:

New Years Day, markets closed

Monday January 4:

Economic data: UK manufacturing PMI, US manufacturing PMI

Tuesday January 5:

Trading announcements: WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC (LON:MRW), Next PLC (LON:NXT)

Wednesday January 6:

Trading announcements: Greggs PLC (LON:GRG)

Economic data: UK services PMI, US ADP unemployment, US services PMI

Thursday January 7:

FTSE 100 ex-dividends to knock 0.71 points off the index: AVEVA Group PLC (LON:AVV), Experian PLC (LON:EXPN), British Land Company PLC (LON:BLND)

Economic data: UK construction PMI, US trade balance, US jobless claims

Friday January 8:

Trading announcements: Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV)

Finals: Intermediate Capital Group PLC (LON:ICP)

Economic data: US non-farm payrolls

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