Retailers are set to dominate the financial headlines this week.
The City will be anxiously waiting results from supermarket group Morrisons on Wednesday - barely a week after it shocked investors with its second profits warning in less than a year.
Morrisons now says annual profits will come in at around £320 million to £330 million.
But worries remain over the speed and success of the Safeway- conversion programme, and there is speculation that finance director Martin Ackroyd could pay with his job. Pretax profits are expected to come in at £ 324.6 million against £319 million last time.
Clothing- giant Next shaved its annual profits forecasts by £5 million in January due to a glut of excess stock, leaving it predicting profits in the range of £415 million to £425 million.
The market will be focusing attention on current like-forlike sales growth - some pundits believe the figures will be poor.
Fund manager Gerrard is tipping Next to post pretax profits of £429 million on Wednesday, up from £353 million previously.
Analysts seeking an answer to the question of whether shoppers are shunning big-ticket items will seize on the annual results of electricals-chain Kesa on Wednesday, which should show profits rising to £193.4 million in the 12 months to January 29 from £176.6 million a year earlier.
Kesa delivered a mixed picture at its three core divisions in a trading statement in January, with sales growth at its flagship Comet chain in the UK slowing to 2.1 per cent over Christmas from 3.3 per cent in the three months to the end of October.
Investors are hoping for impressive results from Plumb Center owner Wolseley today. The group, which is building its UK headquarters and a major distribution centre at Leamington Spa, is expected to report interim pretax profits of £300 million against £245 million a year before.
The first five months of the first half saw group sales and profit figures increase by ten per cent and 25 per cent respectively, driven by favourable commodity price inflation along with high levels of organic growth in core UK and particularly North American markets.
The group made 14 acquisitions worth £216 million in 2004/2005.
Broker Charles Stanley said it expected to see further acquisitions totalling about £200 million-£225 million, with potential for larger purchases up to £1 billion.
"With its core markets in the UK and North America continuing to produce strong figures, backed up by strong market fundamentals, whilst offering the potential for significant expansion via numerous bolt-on acquisitions, the group is in a strong position," analyst Paul Shotter said.
Britain's largest housebuilder is expected to announce on Wednesday that it saw growth in profits and margins in the six months to December 31.
Barratt Developments is tipped to report a rise in pretax profits to £150 million from £142.6 million previously. With merger and acquisition rumours in the sector, an acquisition cannot be dismissed, analyst say.