European summits with Ukrainian issues on the agenda

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Hello and welcome to the work week.

Another anniversary gives us food for thought. This Friday marks two years since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. It wasn’t long ago that this was the greatest story in the world. Vladimir Putin has made sure that is no longer the case.

This newsletter deals only with events in the diary, which limits our ability to alert you to significant developments in the Russian attack on Ukraine. However, we are aware of two significant events related to the West’s response to the conflict.

First, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will receive the heads of state and government of the V4 countries – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – in London to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Most interesting may be the British Prime Minister’s talks with his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orban. The Hungarian government has maintained close ties with the Kremlin for the past decade, but it has also condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and approved most European sanctions. Could Johnson persuade Orban to allow both arms and aid to flow across his border with Ukraine?

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron will host a gathering of EU leaders for an informal European Council summit in Versailles. On the agenda is a wave of requests from former Soviet states for accelerated EU membership, a move framed as a show of solidarity with Ukraine but unlikely to be fulfilled, not least because of its complexity.

South Koreans head to the polls on Wednesday to decide a presidential campaign tainted by scandals, family drama and hints of corruption, crime and nepotism and fraud. A tragedy for an important country – it is the 10th largest economy in the world – which has been a role model in dealing with the Covid pandemic and needs good leadership to address real economic problems.

Finally, a clarification. Last week I noticed that we had entered Christian Lent and was rightly corrected by Fr. Andrew Bushell, a monk of the Orthodox Church, of St. Paul’s Foundation in Massachusetts. As Fr. Andrew very graciously explained, last Wednesday was just the beginning of Lent for Western Christians. For the Orthodox Church, Great Lent – one of four Lents in its calendar – begins this week on Clean Monday. I’m excited to set the record straight, as you can see in the full calendar of events below.

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economic data

The unfolding tragedy of the Ukraine invasion has rendered much of the past few days’ historical economic data irrelevant. However, the crisis will keep the Governing Council of the European Central Bank very busy when it meets on Thursday to decide on the next rate hike.

The UK’s main data releases are retrospective, with January gross domestic product, trade and industrial production figures due on Friday. Also expect inflation updates from several countries including China, Japan, Germany, Italy and the US.

companies

It’s a week full of earnings reports from the insurance industry. FTSE 100 insurers Regulatory will announce its full-year results on Wednesday, just over a month after Chief Executive Mike Wells announced his resignation and the group said the next person to lead it would be from Asia for the first time.

The dissolution of Prudential in recent years has left a UK-based company with primary listings in London and Hong Kong but markets in Asia and Africa. However, given the “friction” created by pandemic-related restrictions, the next global chief could be forced to base himself outside of Hong Kong in the short term, the Financial Times recently revealed.

Lego, the world’s largest toy maker, whose plastic bricks are valued at more than gold, announced its full-year results on Tuesday. Expectations will be higher than for a child with the Millennium Falcon on their birthday wish list. Lego’s growth has accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic. The question is whether the company can maintain its impressive performance.

Important economic and company reports

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

Monday

  • China, trade balance figures for February

  • Germany, January factory order statistics

  • Japan, Current Account and Trade Balance figures for January

  • UK, Halifax, Monthly House Price Index

  • US, January consumer installment loan numbers

Tuesday

  • Apple Hosts Spring Product Launch Event

  • Eurozone GDP data, Q4

  • Germany, industrial production figures for January

  • Italy, Retail Sales figures for January

  • Japan Q4 GDP data

  • OECD publishes preliminary economic outlook

  • UK, Q4 Mortgage Lenders and Administrators Return Statistics

  • Results: Ashtead group Q3, direct insurance GJ, Domino’s Pizza GJ, Fresnillo GJ, Greggs GJ, Lego GJ, group wood GJ

the Wednesday

  • China Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) for February

  • Italy industrial production data for January

  • Japan, February PPI data

  • Mexico, February CPI figures

  • Data on families and households from the UK showing lifestyle trends

  • Results: 888 stocks GJ, Adidas GJ, Cathay Pacific GJ, Continental GJ, German postal service GJ, kid GJ, Legal and General GJ, Regulatory GJ, vivendi GJ

Thursday

  • EU, Governing Council meeting in Frankfurt

  • France January trade balance and industrial production data

  • Israel Q4 GDP data

  • Italy, January PPI numbers

  • UK, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors February Housing Market Survey plus Recruitment & Employment Confederation & KPMG Monthly Jobs Report

  • US, February CPI data and weekly jobless claims

  • Results: Boo trading update for the financial year, Brunello Cucinelli GJ, Fortera GJ, Hapag Lloyd GJ, hugo boss GJ, Leonardo GJ, National Express GJ, TCS group GJ, tods GJ

Friday

  • Canada, February employment data

  • Germany, February CPI data

  • India, industrial production figures for January

  • UK, January GDP estimate plus monthly production data

  • Results: default bank GJ

world events

Finally, here is a rundown of other events and milestones from this week.

Monday

  • Austria meets the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna

  • Clean Monday, also known as Clean Monday, Ash Monday, Lent Monday, or Green Monday, is marked in the Eastern Orthodox Church

  • France, deadline for candidates to collect enough sponsors to participate in the country’s presidential election

  • India, Voting ends with the last of the seven election periods in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh

  • The trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the May 2020 death of George Floyd begins in the United States.

Tuesday

  • International Women’s Day

  • British and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban meets his counterpart Boris Johnson for talks in London

the Wednesday

  • South Korea Presidential Election

  • Spain, Madrid Fashion Week begins

Thursday

  • France, EU leaders gather for an informal summit in Versailles

  • UK, the longlist for the Booker Prize for Literature is announced and Crufts, the world’s largest dog show, opens in Birmingham

  • World Bagpipe Day to celebrate the idiosyncratic instrument

Friday

  • Second anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic

  • Djibouti, local elections

  • Norway, start of Finnmarkslopet, Europe’s longest and toughest dog sled race

  • USA, the South By Southwest Music and Film Conferences and Festivals begin in Austin, Texas

Saturday

  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee publishes an annual letter marking the 33rd anniversary of the World Wide Web detailing the state of his invention and his vision for the future

  • Turkmenistan, early presidential elections following the resignation of incumbent Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov

Sunday

  • Colombia, general elections

  • Mali, first round of parliamentary and presidential elections

  • UK, EE British Academy Film Awards are held at the Royal Albert Hall in London

  • Daylight Saving Time begins in the United States and clocks go forward one hour

  • Vatican City marks the ninth anniversary of Pope Francis’ appointment

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