Shares in Home Retail Group were up on the FTSE 250 in afternoon trading, ahead of the group's end of year trading statement, due tomorrow.

In January the owner of Argos and Homebase reported a continuing decline in sales, although the fall was no worse than that expected by analysts. In addition the group did not issue a profit warning and said full year earnings would still meet analyst forecasts.

At its Argos stores Home Retail said that the rate of sales decline was slowing, while at Homebase the group said it was being aided by a rise in big ticket purchases. Earnings at the group have also been helped by an ongoing share buyback programme.

Keith Bowman, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said ahead of tomorrow's results, "Although conditions are likely to have remained challenging, some draw through from delayed weather related December sales could be seen, with investors again hoping for reassurance with regards to full year profitability - the Q3 update saw management guidance of between £250 million to £275 million highlighted. Ahead of the update, market consensus opinion currently denotes a hold."

By 15:50 shares in Home Retail were up 1.78 per cent on the FTSE 250 to 211.20 pence per share.