Inflation data to take macro spotlight on Wednesday, BHP top-billed for company news

UK inflation figures recently dropped below the Bank of England’s 2% target rate following lower commodity prices at the end of 2018

Some economists think recent wage growth could lift inflation back above the central bank's target rate

UK inflation figures recently dropped below the Bank of England’s 2% target rate following lower commodity prices at the end of 2018.

However, given the fact that wage growth has been picking up, some economists expect this to feed into the CPI numbers on Wednesday and possibly lift inflation above that target rate again.

BHP to clarify guidance

Although iron ore prices have been strong of late on the back of a number of supply constraints, both BHP and fellow miner Rio Tinto recently put their production guidance under review due to a tropical cyclone that crashed into Western Australia’s coast and impacted their joint operations at Pilbara.

On 2 April, BHP – which will issue third quarter production news on Wednesday - said it was reviewing its 2019 guidance of 273mln-283mln tonnes and cost forecasts, but an initial estimate was for a 6mln-8mln tonne reduction in output.

More news on 2019 guidance will also be key.

Margins in focus for Bunzl

Despite beating expectations with its full-year results in February, shares in FTSE 100-listed packaging and distribution firm Bunzl PLC (LON:BNZL) dropped back as a result of shrinking profit margins.

As its UK operation is still under pressure, investors will be keeping a close eye on it when a first-quarter trading update is delivered on Wednesday, despite the UK comprising less than 15% of overall revenues.

Prospects for the rest of 2019 will also be a focus, although few surprises are expected, as well as any hints on possible acquisitions by the firm.

Leasing levels a focus in Segro’s update

Commercial property group Segro PLC (LON:SGRO) will release a first-quarter trading update on Wednesday, although no NAV/EPS figures will be released.

UBS’s analysts said, therefore, they will be looking closely at the level of leasing, both for SEGRO and the market, to see if the Brexit process has stemmed the strong demand led by e-commerce structural tailwinds.

They also look for comments on disposals as SEGRO guided towards £150mln-£250m of property sales for full-year 2019, and also for comments on the progress of developments as the company has also guided towards £600mln in capex spending.

The analysts concluded: “An important question is whether the company can replenish its land bank given accelerating pace of developments so we look for any update on land acquisitions and expected yield on cost.”

Significant announcements expected for Wednesday April 17:

Trading update: BHP Group PLC (LON:BHP), Segro PLC (LON:SGRO), Bunzl PLC (LON:BNZL)

Interims: Countrywide PLC (LON:CWD)

Finals: Amryt Pharma PLC (LON:AMYT), Mediclinic International Plc (LON:MDC), Serica Energy PLC (LON:SQZ), AFI Development PLC (LON:AFRB)

AGMs: Diversified Gas & Oil PLC (LON:DGOC)

Economic data: UK CPI, RPI, PPI, HPI inflation; US balance of trade; US Fed Beige Book

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