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Hello and welcome to the working week.
This is a good time of year to be in London. The days are getting longer, the city’s expansive parks and patchwork of urban squares and churchyards burst into colour with the first flowers of spring and there are rays of sunshine and warmth. However, the main news items are largely elsewhere this week, summarised as a series of significant votes and efforts to find resolution.
The Scottish National party’s leadership election has been compulsory viewing for all the reasons that its (smaller than previously claimed) membership does not like. The contest will end on Monday, the deadline for ballots to be cast. By Tuesday we will know who has succeeded Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and the Holyrood parliament’s first minister.
The British winter of discontent 2.0 (not a patch on the 1970s original, as those who were there will attest) rumbles along with northern and Scottish driving instructors and Plymouth dock workers set to walk out (or perhaps park up in the case of the driving instructors) from Monday and over next weekend respectively. But signs of hope are in sight for resolutions to the broader wave of UK industrial disputes, most recently with RMT members suspending strike action due to happen this week in favour of talks with the rail operating company bosses. Expect more votes to back deals.
Finnish people will be paying more attention than usual to Hungarian politics as the Budapest parliament votes on whether to allow the Nordic nation to secure Nato membership. It will be a tense moment given that 28 out of 30 Nato members have already ratified Finland’s entry. The Finnish people are ready. Their president Sauli Niinistö signed his country’s approval of Nato membership into law last Thursday. If this week’s Hungarian vote goes in its favour, Finland only needs the backing of Turkey, already promised by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to secure its place in the military alliance.
Of course, the world is not in harmony. Finland’s Nato application illustrates that. It will also be obvious this week on the other side of the planet when for the first time a former Taiwanese president visits mainland China. Ma Ying-jeou’s 10-day tour will take place at roughly the same time as Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen is scheduled to travel to the US, the only guarantor of Taiwan’s security.
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Not too much to keep the economic number crunchers busy this week. There are a lot of central bankers giving speeches, however, and a smattering of consumer and business confidence reports.
The US and the UK will give their final assessments of fourth-quarter GDP movements and Australia, France and Germany will update us on their inflation rates, while Germany, Japan and the EU end the week with labour market updates on Friday.
The long tail of the earnings season snakes along this week, but we’ll also see corporate news from Capitol Hill as Starbucks founder — and until recently acting chief executive — Howard Schultz gives testimony to a Senate committee on labour practices at his company’s coffee shops.
Fashion is a fickle beast. Perhaps even more so when it comes to fast fashion. H&M has had a difficult start to the year and seems unable to keep up with the best participants in the market, so it will be interesting to hear how it’s done on profit when it reports first-quarter figures on Wednesday. Clothing retail is a theme that day with Next also reporting. These could be compared with the online shops as grocery deliverer Ocado and online card shop Moonpig also have results announcements.
One corporate trend is earnings being delayed. For instance, tyremaker Pirelli, whose results were due last week, said it would now publish them on April 5. Marine services business James Fisher was due to publish its full-year figures this Tuesday. Instead it gave a trading update last Friday and shifted its earnings call back by a month. We just note these changes.
This also seems a good place to plug an FT Live event happening on Tuesday. Reforming the European Electricity Market, held in partnership with PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, will explore the challenges facing the reformers in the face of rising prices, falling supply, and the need for clean energy. Attend for free either online or in person in Brussels. Just click here to register first.
Here is a more complete list of what to expect in terms of company reports and economic data this week.
Germany, Ifo March Business Climate Index
Netherlands, European Central Bank supervisory board vice-chair Frank Elderson speaks on the ECB’s climate-related activity at the Foreign Bankers’ Association
UK, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey speaks at the London School of Economics
Results: Carnival Q1, Hyve H1 trading update
UK, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey to face questions from MPs on the Treasury Committee about the collapse and subsequent purchase by HSBC of Silicon Valley Bank UK
US, Conference Board March Consumer Confidence Index
Results: AG Barr FY, Bellway H1, Jefferies Q1, McCormick & Company Q1, Micron Technology Q2, Ocado Retail Q1 trading statement, United Utilities trading update, Walgreens Boots Alliance Q2, Wood Group FY
Australia, February consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate figures
France, INSEE March consumer confidence survey
Germany, GfK consumer climate survey
Howard Schultz, founder and until recently interim chief executive of Starbucks, up before a Senate committee on the coffee chain’s labour practices
Tesla investors to urge the Delaware Supreme Court to revive a lawsuit against Elon Musk seeking billions in dollars in damages for allegedly coercing the electric vehicle maker’s board into buying SolarCity in 2016
UK, British Retail Consortium Shop Price Index
UK, February mortgage approvals data
Results: Bertelsmann FY, Dignity FY, Essentra FY, H&M Q1, Next FY, RM FY, Ten Entertainment Group FY
EU, General Council meeting of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt
Germany, March flash Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) and CPI inflation rate data
US, final Q4 GDP figures
Results: Codelco FY, Gresham House FY, Moonpig trading statement, Sixt FY
China, Q4 current account balance
ECB president Christine Lagarde speaks at “Nuovi incontri per il Futuro — Future-oriented meetings” organised by Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori in Florence, Italy
EU, eurozone February unemployment and HICP inflation rate figures
France, March HICP, CPI and producer price index (PPI) inflation rate data
Germany, March unemployment rate
Japan, February labour force survey
UK, final Q4 GDP figures
UK, Nationwide March House Price Index
Results: James Halstead H1, Vanquis Banking FY
Finally, here is a rundown of other events and milestones this week.
China, former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou begins a historic 10-day visit to the Communist country, the first by a sitting or former Taiwanese president
Hungary, parliamentary vote on whether to ratify Finland’s bid to join Nato
UK, driving examiners in the Public and Commercial Services Union to strike in the north-east and Scotland in an ongoing dispute over pay, pensions and jobs
UK, voting closes in the Scottish National party’s leadership election contest with the ruling party in the Holyrood parliament set to announce its new head, and by extension Scotland’s first minister, as soon as the ballots are counted.
US, vice-president Kamala Harris in Ghana, the first stop of a three-nation tour of Africa this week, and part of a diplomatic push by the Biden administration to deepen ties with the continent amid competition from China and Russia.
Deadline for nominations to be submitted for the next president of the World Bank. David Malpass announced he would step down from the role last month
UK, MPs on the Treasury Committee to quiz chancellor Jeremy Hunt about the details of his spring Budget
US, Summit for Democracy begins, hosted by President Joe Biden and with government representatives from Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea and Zambia
US, deadline for federal agencies to remove TikTok from government devices amid concerns about the social media app’s alleged links to the Chinese government. Similar bans on government devices are being enacted in the EU and the UK.
Germany, King Charles begins a two-day state visit to the federal republic, his first as British monarch. A planned tour of France at the start of the week was postponed amid disruption caused by protests about pension reform.
US, Major League Baseball season begins
EU, European Gas Demand Reduction Plan ends
UK, members of the Unite union employed by Serco at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth resume strike action in a row over rotas
Australia, Daylight Saving Time ends
Andorra, parliamentary elections
Bulgaria, parliamentary elections
Finland, parliamentary elections
Iran, Islamic Republic Day. Financial markets closed
Montenegro, presidential elections second round between incumbent Milo Dukanović and Jakov Milatović
Palm Sunday celebrations by western Christian churches
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