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SCOTLAND on SUNDAY: Shell to test rebound

By William Lyons
Published Date: 27 January 2008

THE FTSE-100 restored much of its losses in a turbulent week that included a swingeing 0.75% cut in US interest rates and a package of tax cuts from George Bush. The index closed at 5,869, down just 0.55% over the week.

Sentiment will be tested over the coming days when the City’s full-year results season kicks off with figures from Royal Dutch Shell and AstraZeneca.

Royal Dutch Shell is expected to reveal full-year profits of more than £13.2bn on Thursday despite a tough end to 2007 for the oil major.

Consensus forecasts put fourth-quarter earnings at £2.95bn as higher operating costs and lower refining margins bite, even though oil prices soared to $100 a barrel. This would leave full-year earnings at £13.5bn, 5% ahead of 2006.

Drugs giant AstraZeneca unveils 2007 results on Thursday with profits under pressure from patent challenges to its top-selling treatments. The company’s three leading products are facing competition from rival manufacturers looking to market generic copies.

Retail chain WHSmith is expected to unveil a major share buy back programme next week. The company is preparing to release a Christmas trading update.

WHSmith is less exposed to downturn in high street spending as most of its outlets are located in railway stations and airports where customers have little choice about buying from rivals.

The full article contains 233 words and appears in Scotland On Sunday newspaper.Last Updated: 26 January 2008 4:53 PM

http://business.scotsman.com/economics/Shell-to-test-rebound.3715147.jp

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