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Thursday preview: WPP, US data barrage ahead

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Wednesday 28 Feb 2018

LONDON (ShareCast) - (ShareCast News) - The market spotlight on Thursday is likely to again be on recently-appointed US central bank chief Jerome Powell, as he delivers the second part of his semi-annual testimony to Congress, this time before the Senate Banking Committee.
Typically, Fed chairs do not vary their message from one forum to the next, but given how some traders were apparently caught on the hop by his remarks on Tuesday, they will likely keep a wary out this time around, even if it's only just in case.

Against that backdrop, a wave of economic data is set to hit markets on the first day of the month, including a reading on the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price deflator, or PCE price index, for the month of January.

Back in the UK, the focus will be on the release of IHS Markit's manufacturing sector purchasing managers' index for the month of February at 0930 GMT, alongside the latest mortgage lending figures from ONS.

Rounding out the data calendar, at 0700 GMT Nationwide will release its February House Price Index.

It will also be another heavy day in terms of corporate updates, with the likes of WPP, Cobham, Schroders, Petrofac or Evraz all due to update shareholders.

Ahead of its full-year figures, analysts at Liberum told clients the shares of the advertising and public relations giant looked 'attractive', reiterating their 'buy' recommendation on the same.

Liberum's forecast was for organic revenue sales growth of 2% in 2018, similar to the 2% to 3% range projected by rivals such as Omnicom and Interpublic.

However, the broker also noted the "slightly" more challenging conditions WPP's market research arm was facing.

Furthermore, while it was likely already partly reflected in the company's share price, according to Liberum one potential "fly in the ointment" were the question marks around for how long WPP would be able to keep its contract with Ford.

On a more positive note, the analysts believed WPP would be able to achieve a small additional improvement in its margins for 2018 of around 20 basis points.

Yet in all likelihood WPP would err on the side of caution, guiding instead towards flat margins, they said.

Thursday March 01

INTERIM EX-DIVIDEND DATE]

Alumasc Group, City of London Investment Group, Colefax Group, Green Reit, Hansard Global, Hays, Hotel Chocolat Group , Ideagen, Maven Income And Growth VCT 6 , Park Group, Springfield Properties , WYG

QUARTERLY PAYMENT DATE

JPMorgan Claverhouse Inv Trust

QUARTERLY EX-DIVIDEND DATE

HICL Infrastructure Company Ltd, Honeycomb Investment Trust, Real Estate Credit Investments Ltd, Regional REIT Limited, SQN Asset Finance Income Fund Limited, SQN Asset Finance Income Fund Limited 'C Shares', SQN Secured Income Fund

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

Auto Sales (US) (20:30)Construction Spending (US) (15:00) Continuing Claims (US) (00:00) Import Price Index (GER) (07:00) Initial Jobless Claims (US) (13:30) ISM Manufacturing (US) (15:00) ISM Prices Paid (US) (15:00) Personal Income (US) (13:30) PMI Manufacturing (GER) (08:55) PMI Manufacturing (EU) (09:00) PMI Manufacturing (US) (14:45) Unemployment Rate (EU) (10:00)

FINALS

Allied Irish Banks , Allied Irish Banks AIB, Arrow Global Group, BBA Aviation, Bovis Homes Group, Capita, Cobham, Costain Group, CRH, Evraz, Grafton Group Units, Gresham House, Hastings Group Holdings , Howden Joinery Group, Hunting, International Personal Finance, Laird, Maistro, Merlin Entertainments , National Express Group, Nichols, Petrofac Ltd., Rentokil Initial, Robert Walters, RPS Group, Schroders (Non-Voting), STV Group, Synthomer, Total Produce, WPP, XP Power Ltd. (DI)

INTERIMS

Haydale Graphene Industries, Redde

SPECIAL EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Booker Group

AGMS

Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust, Electra Private Equity, Jersey Electricity 'A' Shares, Local Shopping REIT, Shoe Zone

UK ECONOMIC ANNOUNCEMENTS

Consumer Credit (09:30), Mortgage Approvals (09:30) PMI Manufacturing (09:30)

FINAL EX-DIVIDEND DATE

Arden Partners, Athelney Trust, Barclays, easyJet, Lakehouse, Mithras Inv Trust, MTI Wireless Edge Ltd., Northern Electricity Prf, Rio Tinto, RSA Ins 7 3/8%pf, RSA Insurance Group, Sanderson Group