Counting on rate cuts

 

With little on the corporate front to deflect the attention of analysts, meetings on interest rates around Europe will feel the full glare of market-watchers. While there is a growing expectation that the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) will cut rates by 50 basis points rather than the previously forecast 25 basis points, the recent experience of the US Federal Reserve will instil a degree of caution. On the one hand the MPC is aware that rates in Britain now are higher than they might have been due to apparently inaccurate economic data published during the summer; on the other it will be wary of being pushed into a decisive rate cut by pressure of public and, particularly, business opinion.

However, the moves by the G7 last week make it practically certain that there will be a rate cut of some order on Thursday. The focus will then switch to Frankfurt and Paris where the Bundesbank policy committee and the Bank of France's monetary council convene on the same day. Pressure is growing for rate cuts by both in a bid to stimulate both the European and wider global economy but the Bundesbank, in particular, is reluctant to expand its focus from its traditional strengths of protecting local German interests.

Monday

Results: Associated British Foods, Astra, BAA (H1), Prowting (H1), Stratagem Group, Style Holdings (H1), Willis Corroon Group (Q3).

A.G.M.: Bryant, Gartmore Scotland.

Meetings: Confederation of British Industry annual conference (Birmingham to Tues); Conference on emerging trends in financial crime (London); Irish Co-operative Society national conference (Burlington Hotel, Dublin to Tues).

Indicators: Reuters quarterly poll of long-term economic forecasts for Britain.

Others: European Commission telecommunications directorate-general hosts the fourth European Teleworking Week aiming to promote teleworking within EU (Brussels to November 9th); French National Assembly debates spending side of 1999 budget.

Tuesday

Results: Anglian Water (H1), BP (Q3), Marks & Spencer (H1), Pressac, Sandvik (Q3), Shanks & McEwan Group (H1), Select Appointments (Q3), Thames Water (H1).

A.G.M.: Henderson Eurotrust, ICM Computer Group.

Meetings: European Central Bank council meeting (Frankfurt); Seminar on "Technology? Marketing? Finance? All or nothing?" jointly organised by The Marketing Institute and the Science, Technology and Innovation Awareness Programme (Burlington Hotel, Dublin).

Others: Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Gordon Brown presents his pre-budget report, or draft budget, to parliament; US Elections for all 435 seats in House of Representatives, 34 Senate seats and 36 governors' offices; ISME publishes pre-Budget submission; ESRI publishes "Trading Qualification for Jobs - Over-education and the Irish youth Labour Market".

Wednesday

Results: KLM, MMT Computing, Old English Pub Co (H1), Scottish Power (H1), Seton Scholl Healthcare (H1), Shiloh (H1), Westbury (H1).

A.G.M.: Community Hospitals, Regent Inns, TDS Circuits (e.g.m.).

Meetings: Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy addresses Leinster Society of Chartered Accountants; Bank of England monetary policy committee meeting (to Thurs).

Indicators: Irish industrial turnover (Jul).

Others: Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce opens a business forum for the town.

Thursday

Results: Boots (H1), Estates and Agency, Galen Holdings, Railtrack, Royal and SunAlliance (Q3), SAS Airlines (Q3), Shell (Q3), J Smart.

A.G.M.: Fletcher Challenge, PIC International (e.g.m.), Wainhomes.

Meetings: Bundesbank council meeting; Bank of France monetary policy council meeting; ICTU/EU conference on urban transport (Burlington Hotel, Dublin); TransAtlantic Business Dialogue annual conference, with chief executives of 235 leading US and 284 EU companies invited (Charlotte, North Carolina to Sat); Marlborough Group forum on key issues for human resources as we approach the Millennium.

Others: BFK/Marketing magazine Marketer of the Year Award (Conrad Hotel, Dublin); Directory of LEADER II groups in Ireland published.

Friday

Results: Uni-lever (Q3).

A.G.M.: Lucas Varity (e.g.m.), Petra Diamonds, Thomas Walker.

Indicators: Irish industrial earnings and hours worked.

Others: Presentation Lunch for The Irish Times Recruitment Advertising Effectiveness Awards (Westbury Hotel, Dublin).