An active week for alliances

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Hello and welcome to the working week.

The northern hemisphere is heading towards the spring equinox next weekend with longer days and warmer temperatures to lift spirits. And God knows we need it. So how about a week for alliances?

Military first. From Thursday, NATO will be on the move. Cold Response 2022 is a series of Arctic military exercises in Norway and the surrounding seas. These will be defensive exercises, but they will illustrate some of NATO’s firepower with around 30,000 soldiers from more than 25 countries.

Neighboring Finland and Sweden, which are not part of NATO but where public pressure to join is growing, will also be involved. Of course, these long-planned exercises have taken on new meaning with recent events. In November, Russia was invited but the Kremlin refused.

NATO member states have also provided much-needed weapons to the Ukrainians – as this excellent Big Read explains, while UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says the alliance should increase defense spending to deal with the biggest change in security threat since 9/11. NATO defense ministers will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss new measures to be taken regarding the Ukrainian crisis.

So much for the war. The coming days will also see commemorations that will highlight how nations – even those with difficult histories – can work together and how cultures can be peacefully shared.

The Commonwealth of Nations is not without controversy – it is after all almost entirely made up of former territories of the British Empire. Questions are also being raised about its effectiveness – some Brexiters still cling to the idea that trade with Commonwealth countries could replace that lost by leaving the EU, but they are a shrinking swath.

However, it is the Commonwealth’s success in establishing cooperation between diverse cultures that will be commemorated this week with a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London. Queen Elizabeth, the Commonwealth leader who recently recovered from Covid-19 and who will turn 96 next month, was due to attend but will not now, fearing she will not be able to travel comfortably to the service.

Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day, a time to celebrate for the Irish diaspora, who have done perhaps more than any other people to mingle with nations around the world. In these dark days, it will do good to celebrate such bonds.

If you want to go beyond borders and share your views on The Week Ahead, write to me at [email protected] But for now, here are the upcoming economic and corporate events.

Economic data

Interest rate decisions will dominate economic news this week. The US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England are both expected to raise their key rates by 25 basis points, while the Bank of Japan is refraining from tightening for the time being.

Fed Chairman Jay Powell is a supporter of Greenspan’s gradualism, but all monetary policy committees meeting this week will be wary of killing the golden hen of economic recovery while trying to tame the beast of inflation. The war in Europe made this already delicate balancing act a little more difficult.

The reality is that the Ukrainian conflict has dashed hopes for a post-pandemic recovery. Fears of deteriorating living standards in developed economies, with knock-on effects on consumer spending, have deepened further with the further damage caused by trade embargoes on Russian energy – although not all believe that rising oil prices could further fuel inflation. We will get clarity on this from the data released this week.

The line chart of US inflation expectations has risen since the invasion of Russia showing Unanchoring?

Companies

Energy – the electric kind – will be a theme among the company’s results. It’s not just that there are a number of energy providers – E.On, Enel and RWE – but it is also of concern to those who are betting their future on replacing fossil fuel machines.

German car manufacturer volkswagen will update the progress of its shift to electric vehicles – and there have been bumps in the road. CEO Herbert Diess has made it his mission to take Tesla on in the electric race by committing 52 billion euros to develop battery-powered models. However, a more pressing issue is the impact of the Ukraine crisis on supply chains, with Diess saying last week that Russia’s war was doing more damage to his business than the pandemic.

Main economic and corporate reports

Here’s a more comprehensive list of what to expect in terms of corporate reports and economic data this week.

Monday

  • India, February Consumer Price Index (CPI) data

  • United Kingdom, Office for National Statistics annual review of the “basket” of items making up the consumer price inflation index series

  • Results: Abcam AF

Tuesday

  • Canada, January manufacturing data

  • China, monthly retail sales figures

  • EU, January industrial production data

  • France, February inflation rate

  • Germany, ZEW research group economic sentiment survey

  • India, trade statistics

  • Japan, trade balance data

  • OPEC’s monthly oil market report

  • UK, March payroll employment figures plus February insolvency figures

  • United States, February labor statistics

  • Results: Assicurazioni Generali AF, close brothers H1, Old mutual AF, Petrofac AF, RWE AF, TAG Real Estate AF, ICAP practical AF, volkswagen AF

Wednesday

  • Canada, February CPI data

  • International Energy Agency Monthly Oil Market Report

  • Italy, February CPI data

  • Japan, January industrial production figures

  • United States, Federal Open Market Committee Meeting Decision on Interest Rates Plus National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Monthly Housing Market Index

  • Results: E.On AF, Foxconn Technology AF, Inditex AF, Restaurant group AF

Thursday

  • Australia, quarterly bulletin of the Reserve Bank of Australia

  • EU, February inflation data

  • Japan, the start of the two-day meeting of the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy committee and February CPI data

  • Spain, trade balance figures for January

  • UK and Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee vote on interest rates

  • United States, February industrial production figures

  • Results: Enel AF, fedex Q3, Marshals H1, Pirelli AF, Sample AF Veolia AF

Friday

  • Quadruple Witching Day, when stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures expire

  • Canada, January retail trade figures

  • EU, January trade figures

  • Italy, trade balance figures for January

  • UK retail sales figures for February

Global Events

Finally, here’s a look at some of the other events and milestones from this week.

Monday

  • France, the Alpine Skiing World Championships begin in Courchevel and Méribel, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

  • In Japan, White Day is marked by men sending gifts to women who gave them gifts a month earlier on Valentine’s Day.

  • In the UK, the annual Commonwealth celebration will be marked by a multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey in London

Tuesday

  • UK, the start of the Cheltenham Festival, one of the country’s most publicized hunter horse racing events

Wednesday

  • The Jewish holiday of Purim begins

  • Belgium and NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels to discuss the war in Ukraine

  • Netherlands, municipal elections

  • UK, Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert at Royal Albert Hall and Campaign for Real Ale celebrates 50th anniversary

Thursday

  • St. Patrick’s Day: Irish Taoiseach Michael Martin will hold the annual Shamrock Ceremony with US President Joe Biden in Washington

  • Norway, 23 NATO members plus Finland and Sweden start winter exercises in northern Norway as part of Cold Response 2022 event

Friday

  • Holi, the Hindu festival of colors

  • Beginning of the Sikh festival of Hola Mahalla

  • world recycling day

  • Three-man launch of Soyuz-MS-21 to the International Space Station

  • Serbia, the 18th World Indoor Athletics Championships begin in Belgrade

Saturday

  • Australia, state legislative elections in South Australia

  • East Timor, first round of the presidential election

Sunday

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