This week began with some of the UK's big financial firms issuing their results, as sterling steered a strong course early on.

This afternoon the euro was at 1.4571 against the pound, while the dollar was at 1.7506 against sterling.

Earlier HSBC kicked off a brisk week in the City by announcing record profits for a British high street bank with pre-tax returns of £11.5 billion for 2005.

HSBC's overseas operations helped it to the vast figure, with analysts now awaiting details from other companies releasing this week.

Tomorrow sees Admiral release its final results, while Premier Foods is also releasing on the same day.

On Wednesday engineering and services group Balfour Beatty will release its figures, as will Provident Financial and Travis Perkins.

John Lewis Partnership, National Express and Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance all publish result on Thursday, with the week's final round of results coming from Greggs and Marshalls on Friday.