AFTER a generally upbeat mood last week, despite no deal being reached on the European budget, markets were rather subdued as the last week of November’s trading got under way.

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Perhaps it was just a little profit taking ahead of the festive season taking over, although it is worth remembering that December is more likely to see share prices rise than fall. Still, there was something of a pause for breath, with little news to stimulate interest.

Greece and banks are back in the limelight, though. Yesterday saw discussions taking place on the latest bail-out package, with an announcement likely tomorrow. In the banking world UBS received a hefty fine for failing to monitor its trading activities properly, while Barclays was back in the rumour mill, with suggestions that its investment bank might be floated as a separate entity.

But it is likely to be our own economic numbers, due later today, that will prove a focus of attention. This will be the first of several revisions to the third quarter estimates on how our Gross Domestic Product is faring in these difficult times.

The first take from the Office of National Statistics suggested we’d actually grown by 1%. It will be disappointing if this figure is revised downwards significantly, though most believe it will hold close to the initial estimate.

Companies reporting this week include water company United Utilities and retailers Dixons and Kingfisher, and on Thursday, the Bank of England publishes its bi-annual Financial Stability Report.

With our central bank assuming responsibility for banking regulation and a new governor just appointed, this might be more of a riveting read than usual.

: : Brian Tora is an associate with investment managers JM Finn & Co.

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