View our top seven stories to look out for this week (25-29 September), plus our key company earnings schedule.

The week ahead: German election impact, US & EU inflation

Our Chief Market Analyst, Michael Hewson, takes a look at what might change in the markets due to the German elections, as well as looking ahead to the latest inflation numbers from the US and EU.

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How will the German election unfold?
Sunday: The only likely uncertainty surrounding this weekend's German election is on who Angela Merkel's coalition partners will be. Mrs Merkel is the favourite to win for a fourth successive term; however, the tone of voice of any new administration will depend on her junior coalition partners. If the FDP come third, then steps towards further eurozone integration as proposed by France are likely to hit a brick wall.

Can Carnival weather the storm?
Monday: It’s not expected to be a strong quarter for Carnival Cruise Line pending its Q3 trading update. The Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have a sizeable effect on the company's turnover, given that 39% of its business is derived from the Caribbean and Florida. Many of Carnival's main destinations are the islands worst affected, and with the hurricane season far from over and cancellations higher than normal, we can expect a rather downbeat outlook.

AA might be in need of a roadside recovery
Tuesday: It’s been a disappointing quarter for the UK's largest breakdown and insurance company, with shares just above post-IPO all-time lows after the controversial departure of its executive chairman in August. AA has also warned that profit wouldn’t improve on the previous year. It’s alleged the chairman's departure was down to a physical altercation, which has been denied, due to differing opinions over the possible spinning out of its insurance business to Hastings.

Will Darden Restaurants satisfy shareholders?
Tuesday: If eating out is a benchmark of consumer wellbeing, then restaurants like the Olive Garden tend to do well. The problem is that consumer confidence is telling one story while retail sales suggest another. At Darden Restaurants' last trading update sales rose 4.4%, as the popularity of its pasta and breadstick model helped to deliver an 11th successive quarter of growth for the popular US restaurant. Shareholders will be hoping management can make it 12 in a row.

How will retail sales affect US Q2 GDP?
Thursday: In the last iteration for economic output the US economy saw an upward revision on Q1 to 3%, driven largely by a rebound in consumer spending. The adjustment might have been overstating matters given the recent downward revisions to retail sales in June. This could mean a slightly lower headline figure when the final numbers are released this week.

Q2 GDP could hint at an improving UK economy
Friday: The final iteration of UK Q2 GDP is expected to show modest improvements to the UK economy following a disappointing Q1. Economic output is set to show a rise of 0.3%, with a chance we could see 0.4%, though that seems unlikely given that retail sales are expected to have been a net drag in the second quarter.

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Index dividend schedule

If you trade indices, dividend payments from an index's constituent shares can result in either a credit or debit to your account. 
View this week's indices dividend drop points table

Monday 25 September Results
Amerisur Resources (UK) Half-year
Carnival (US) Q3
M&C Saatchi (UK) Half-year
Red Hat (US) Q2
SYNNEX (US) Q3
Tuesday 26 September Results
AA (UK) Half-year
A.G. Barr (UK) Half-year
Baillie Gifford Shin Nippon (UK) Half-year
Card Factory (UK) Half-year
Close Brothers (UK) Full-year
Darden Restaurants (US) Q1
FactSet Research Systems (US) Q4
Inspiration Healthcare (UK) Half-year
Landec (US) Q1
Micron Technology (US) Q4
NIKE (US) Q1
Wednesday 27 September Results
Actuant (US) Q4
boohoo.com (UK) Half-year
Jabil (US) Q4
Pier 1 Imports (US) Q2
Progress Software (US) Q3
Thor Industries (US) Q4
Worthington Industries (US) Q1
Thursday 28 September Results
AngioDynamics (US) Q1
CalAmp (US) Q2
Clinigen Group (UK) Full-year
Conagra Brands (US) Q1
Ferrellgas Partners (US) Q4
KB Home (US) Q3
McCormick (US) Q3
OMNOVA Solutions (US) Q3
Rite Aid (US) Q2
Vail Resorts (US) Q4
Friday 29 September Results
Carillion PLC (UK) Half-year
CVS Group PLC (UK) Full-year

Company announcements are subject to change. All the events listed above were correct at the time of writing.

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