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Friday preview: EU council summit conclusion, SThree and Trinity Mirror updates

By Oliver Haill

Date: Thursday 14 Dec 2017

LONDON (ShareCast) - (ShareCast News) - The conclusion of the EU Council summit will be the main focus for markets on Friday, with no FTSE 350 companies expected to report results.
Investor will still be able to peruse updates from recruiter SThree and Daily Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror.

But the Mirror's attention and most others in the UK will be on the expected confirmation from European Union leaders that Brexit talks can pass onto the next stages.

Theresa May has travelled to Brussels to put the final lobbying touches to gain agreement from the 27 remaining member states, who are reported to be poised to agree on Friday morning that "sufficient progress" had been made in the first phase of the negotiations to move the talks on.

The EU is expected to offer a vague declaration on the future trading relationship with the UK, planning to forge a political agreement that can be fleshed out with detailed negotiations during the two-year transition phase post Brexit, though British ministers want a substantial agreement on trade before the 2019 deadline.

Away from Brussels the calendar is fairly quiet with eurozone trade data, along with the US empire manufacturing and November industrial production prints and the Bank of Japan's quarterly Tankan business report.

COMPANY NEWS

SThree will report a trading statement for the final quarter of its trading year, ending in November, as it aims for a full year profit before tax of 41m.

UBS expects a further improvement in group constant currency growth to 6%, after 5% in Q3, and a growing focus on improving profitability.

Although international comparatives get tougher in they quarter, the Swiss bank expect underlying momentum to continue to improve, seeing 9% growth for Q4 in Continental Europe from 6% in the prior quarter, 12% Americas down from 20%, and Asia Pacific flat, while the UK trend is seen continuing to improve, forecasting a fall of 7% for Q4 after -10% in Q3.

After the capital markets day mid-November, and recently announced UK restructuring, UBS also expects a "growing focus on profitability".

Trinity Mirror, which in September confirmed talks with Northern & Shell to acquire its Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers, last gave a financial update to the market in early October, when underlying revenue fell 8% in the third quarter, a small improvement on the first-half decline of 9%.

The third quarter saw publishing revenue decline 9% with print down 10% and digital rose 4%, with management confident in
achieving profit forecasts for the year.

Broker Numis said: "Based on previous years we expect a reasonably brief update that provides some colour on underlying trading in Q4, the expected net debt at year end and a comment on expected profit performance to market expectations."

Any comment on the Northern & Shell talks is only expected to be a confirmation that discussion is ongoing.



Friday December 15

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
Balance of Trade (EU) (06:00)
Capacity Utilisation (US) (14:15)
Industrial Production (US) (14:15)
Wholesale Price Index (GER) (06:00)

TRADING ANNOUNCEMENTS
SThree, Trinity Mirror

SPECIAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
Card Factory, River and Mercantile Group , Softcat

AGMS
On-Line, Plant Impact, TLA Worldwide , Up Global Sourcing Holdings

FINAL DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
AB Dynamics, Aeci 5 1/2% Prf, Edinburgh Dragon Trust, London Finance & Investment Group, Origin Enterprises, River and Mercantile Group , Sherborne Investors (Guernsey) 'B' Limited, Softcat, Tiso Blackstar Group SE, Tristel, World Careers Network

INTERIM DIVIDEND PAYMENT DATE
BlackRock Smaller Companies Trust, Braemar Shipping Services, C&C Group, Card Factory, CML Microsystems, Downing Three VCT F Shs, Downing Three VCT H Shs, Downing Two VCT F Shs , Downing Two VCT G Shs, Dunedin Enterprise Investment Trust, Octagonal, Octopus Apollo VCT, Sophos Group , Telecom Plus, Whitbread, Wynnstay Properties

QUARTERLY PAYMENT DATE
Alpha Real Trust Ltd., Canadian General Investments Ltd., Carnival