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Hello and welcome to the working week.
Is your diary full of meetings this week? Well, so is ours. It begins with a Chinese state visit to Russia by President Xi Jinping, reaffirming his ties with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a three-day trip. China has presented itself as a potential mediator in the Ukraine conflict, although this is viewed with scepticism in Europe and the US. This is Xi’s first visit to Russia since the war began in February last year.
On the subject of questionable gatherings, partygate is returning to your newsfeeds. Former British prime minister Boris Johnson will on Wednesday give evidence to the cross-party House of Commons inquiry into whether he intentionally misled parliament about illegal office social gatherings during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Fortunately, not every diary item is caught in a doom loop. Progress is being made in ending the UK’s long-running labour disputes. The meetings here are about finding resolutions. Also, RMT members will on Monday conclude a ballot to accept Network Rail’s revised offer on pay and conditions. But the picture is complicated. For instance, about 70,000 members of the University and College Union will resume strike action on Monday despite their employers’ offer of new proposals on pay, conditions and pensions.
Things are moire complicated still across the Channel for Emmanuel Macron, where further strike action over his pension reforms may be the least of his worries, given the vote of no confidence his party faces on Monday.
British trade negotiators are heading to New Delhi for an eighth round of talks to secure a UK-India Free Trade Agreement, beginning on Monday. Read this excellent explainer from the equally superb [and premium] Trade Secrets newsletter for background on what, if agreed, would no doubt be billed as another Brexit success (on top of the Windsor framework) for British prime minister Rishi Sunak. What good it would do him or his party’s chances in the polls is another matter.
The government of Sri Lanka is hoping to move on from its economic crisis this week with the IMF board meeting on Monday to approve a $2.9bn rescue package for the country. Sri Lanka owes about $40bn in public debt to creditors including China, India and Japan as well as private bondholders, so it is significant that these countries have all recently given their backing to the international assistance programme.
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The Federal Reserve gets top billing in the economic news with its monthly rate-setting committee announcing its monetary policy adjustment on Wednesday. Despite the trauma of this month’s banking sector crises, which some argue should warrant a pause in rate movements, the markets are expecting a 25 basis point rate increase. This would certainly please the OECD.
The Bank of England rate decision follows on Thursday. Economists are split over what the Monetary Policy Committee should do with the markets pricing in an almost equally split probability of a 25-percentage-point increase or no change. Expectations that the MPC might stick with the base rate at 4 per cent were bolstered by last week’s public expectations on inflation survey results.
Nike reports on Tuesday, so time to dust off the athletics metaphors. The road ahead includes a number of hurdles, including the company’s significant reliance on China at a time when this is less politically acceptable in the US. Analysts polled by CapitalIQ expect earnings per share of $0.54 on revenues of $11.46bn for Nike’s quarter, which ended in February, and will be keen to see what success the company has had reducing its significant inventory pile.
Things are looking up (a bit) for Tencent with analysts forecasting mild revenue growth (less than 1 per cent) in its fourth-quarter results. This would end two consecutive quarters of revenue decline, although it will probably still illustrate the negative impact of China’s zero-Covid policy, which ended in December.
Observers are watching for further announcements about share distributions. Tencent has been shedding some of its assets in China’s internet sphere as Beijing pressures it to downsize its tech empire. It’s possible also that the company will announce the divestment of Kuaishou holdings, according to Ellie Olcott, the FT’s China corporate tech correspondent.
Here is a more complete list of what to expect in terms of company reports and economic data this week.
China, central bank interest rate decision
EU, January trade balance data
France, Germany, UK: quarterly changes to local equity indices come into force, including the FTSE 100, DAX and CAC
Germany, February producer price index (PPI) inflation rate data
Mexico, financial markets closed for Birthday of Benito Juárez public holiday
Twitter implements a new policy mandating two-factor authentication using text messages for all Twitter Blue accounts
Tunisia, financial markets closed for Independence Day holiday
UK, Rightmove House Price Index
Results: Computacenter FY, Foot Locker Q4
Canada, February CPI inflation rate data
France, February retail sales figures
Germany, March Zew economic sentiment survey
UK, February public sector borrowing figures
US, existing home sales data
Results: Alliance Pharma FY, Boku FY, Henry Boot FY, JBS Q4, Kingfisher FY, Luceco FY, Nike Q3, Oxford Nanopore FY, RWE FY, Trustpilot FY, YouGov H1
UK, Consumer Price Index (CPI), Retail Price Index (RPI), PPI and CPI plus owner occupier housing costs (CPIH) inflation rate figures
US, Federal Open Market Committee decision on interest rates
Results: Essentra FY, Fever-Tree Drinks FY, Hostelworld FY, Tencent Q4, Ten Entertainment Group FY, Vistry Group FY
EU, March consumer confidence figures
Pakistan, Republic Day national holiday
UK, Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee rate decision
Results: Accenture Q2, Darden Restaurants Q3, General Mills Q3, Inchcape FY, Lloyd’s of London FY, Pirelli FY, Wickes FY
Canada, January retail sales figures
EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US: S&P Global manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data
Japan, February CPI inflation rate data (AM local time)
UK, February retail sales figures and GFK consumer confidence survey
Results: Ceres Power FY, JD Wetherspoon H1, Smiths Group H1
Finally, here is a rundown of other events and milestones this week.
Vernal equinox, the first day of spring as measured by a day’s length equalling that of the night and the Earth’s poles being equidistant from the Sun
20th anniversary of US missiles striking Baghdad, launching the Shock and Awe campaign that began the Iraq war to end Saddam Hussein’s rule
EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting, including discussion on Tunisia, the Windsor framework with the UK and developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
France, president Emmanuel Macron’s party faces a no confidence vote in parliament over his efforts to push through pension reform
Russia, Chinese president Xi Jinping will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow during a three-day state visit
Sri Lanka, the IMF board meets to discuss approving a $2.9bn rescue package to pull the country out of an economic crisis
UK, British and Indian officials begin an eighth round of talks in New Delhi to try to secure a UK-India Free Trade Agreement
UK, more than 70,000 staff at 150 universities begin another three days of strikes in their dispute over pay, pensions and working conditions. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Ofsted and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency also walk out.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg presents the defence alliance’s annual report at its headquarters in Brussels
US, special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry expected to visit Oaxaca in south-west Mexico to study the area’s new wind energy projects
60th anniversary of the Beatles releasing their debut album, Please Please Me, recorded in a single 12-hour session at the Abbey Road studios in London
UK, former prime minister Boris Johnson to give public evidence to parliament’s privileges committee about whether he misled MPs over the numerous “partygate” social gatherings in government buildings during Covid lockdowns
Canada, US president Joe Biden makes his first trip north of the border since entering the White House in a state visit delayed owing to Covid restrictions
France, unions to leader further protests against president Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms, raising the retirement age by two years to 64
Belgium, EU leaders attend a summit in Brussels, chaired by European Council president Charles Michel
UK, Conservative party Spring Forum opens in Birmingham, discussing campaigning ahead of May’s local elections and a general election due next year
Greece, Independence Day public holiday
UK, the Scottish Green party, junior partner to the Scottish National party administration in Holyrood, holds its spring conference in Glasgow
The World Wide Fund for Nature’s Earth Hour rolls around the globe with famous landmarks, skylines, businesses and homes turning off their lights for an hour at 8:30pm local time to highlight the impact of climate change
Ukraine, Day of the National Guard
UK, King Charles and his wife Camilla begin their first state visit as monarch and Queen Consort, travelling first to France, then Germany next week
European Daylight Saving Time — British Summer Time in the UK — begins with clocks moving forward by an hour
On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, the Chinese State Council Information Office issued a report on human rights violations in the United States of Amer
Wall Street bonuses fell last year by the most since the financial crisis, dropping 26 per cent to an average of $176,000, according to a report out Thursday mo
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