Investors will this week be looking for some festive cheer from the construction sector.
Persimmon is expected to tighten its grip as the UK's biggest housebuilder when it issues an end of year trading update on Thursday. Strong housing market conditions continue to benefit the group, which jumped into the FTSE 100 Index earlier this year after acquiring Cheltenhambased Westbury for #664 million in January.
Roddy Wallace, equity analyst at Barclays Wealth, said: "We are expecting the tone to be positive, and the group to continue to benefit from the quality of its landbank and management."
Persimmon, which operates the Charles Church brand, announced a 16 per cent rise in half-year profits to #271.5 million, but is likely to have seen its performance improve since then as house prices continue to gather pace.
The integration of Westbury has gone to plan and analysts expect the company to generate further cost savings because of the deal. But the main focus of the sector is on further consolidation after Wilson Bowden put itself up for sale in a #2 billion auction. Persimmon is among names linked to the Leicesterbased firm, along with Redrow, Barratt Developments and McCarthy & Stone's new owner HBOS.
George Wimpey is seen as an outside bet for Wilson Bowden, but it already has plenty on its plate at the moment because of a housing market slowdown in the United States.
Further details on the performance of Morrison Homes - based in five states from California to Florida - will emerge on Wednesday when the company issues a pre-close trading update.
At its last update in October, Wimpey revealed a 35 per cent fall in the value of its order book in the United States, but said all was well with its UK operation, which operates under the brands George Wimpey and Laing Homes.
Hanson's UK bricks division is tomorrow likely to be a concern for investors, after one of its rivals described the market as the weakest for 50 years. Most of the company's global operations have performed well, but in the UK conditions are more tricky, partly because of an oversupply of bricks and in light of trends towards the building of flats rather than houses.
At its last update in August, Hanson's UK arm reported a 19 per cent fall drop in brick volumes although average selling prices increased seven per cent as Hanson offset the impact of higher gas and electricity prices. Baggeridge Brick highlighted the pain last week when it said pre-tax profits for the year to September 30 fell to # 3.4 million from #5.2 million a year earlier. It has shaken up the industry by agreeing to a takeover by Austria's Wienerberger in a move combining the third and fourth largest suppliers.
But the Baggeridge deal is under threat after the Office of Fair Trading said it was concerned that the three biggest firms - including Hanson and Ibstock - would hold 90 per cent of the UK market.
Hanson said at its last update that it was pursuing a number of acquisition opportunities for the group, but did not provide details.