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NATO chiefs meet as war in Ukraine enters second month

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Hello and welcome to the work week.

First the bad news. I fear this week’s diary is filled with darker milestones. Having just passed the second anniversary of the declaration of Covid-19 as a global pandemic at the beginning of March, this Thursday marks a month since Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

NATO Heads of State — including US President Joe Biden – convene for an extraordinary session that day to discuss the next steps in relation to the conflict. It coincides with a pre-scheduled meeting of the European Council of EU member state leaders to discuss the energy crisis and Covid, as well as the war in Ukraine.

Great Britain is facing steepest decline in living standards since the 1950s – and possibly two lost decades for the economy. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has the unenviable task of finding a way through this problem when he unveils his on Wednesday spring declaration to the Parliament of Westminster. Will he introduce Windfall tax for energy companies? with better than expected public finances, the UK Treasurer has some leeway to offset the financial pain coming to UK households, but alleviating the rising cost of living for many will still be a challenging balancing act. Over the past 20 years, a series of economic shocks – from the financial crisis to the pandemic – have exposed structural weaknesses in the UK economy that MBA graduate Sunak needs fresh ideas to change the countryand fast.

On Saturday, the lights will go out in cities around the world, but not because of the energy crisis – we hope. It’s Earth Hour, the annual international climate change sympathy show, reminding us that we can do more to fight global warming by using less energy.

And what about the good news this week? The US National Park Service has estimated that cherry blossoms will be rich lace bloom in Washington in the coming days. The Oscars also return in person on Sunday with an awards ceremony in Hollywood. And also on that day in the UK and EU, clocks are put forward by one hour to daylight saving time, ushering in longer evenings for those of us in the northern hemisphere to get outside. It might be just what we need to lift spirits in these dark times.

economic data

The spending statement will coincide with economic data on the state of the UK economy – inflation, house prices and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s medium-term outlook for the economy. Forecasts far into the future – ie more than a few years – might be taken with great caution, but observers will be curious to see what the recent shocks have done to overall growth forecasts.

If you are looking for international comparisons, there are numerous Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reports to be released on Thursday. If you still want more data from the UK, we’ll have an update on consumer confidence and retail sales on Friday.

companies

Expect some strong numbers from UK retailers reporting earnings this week. Owner of a home improvement chain kingfisher – which reports the annual result on Tuesday – increased his leadership in December, stressing that concerns about an end to home improvement with the lifting of lockdown restrictions have not materialized. It was also a good Christmas season for the clothing chain Nextwhich announces its numbers on Thursday, also increased his leadership In December. The question is whether the sales boom can last as consumers lose confidence from rising fuel costs and the war in Ukraine.

It’s going to be a nervous week for British restaurateurs, however. The industry is in a desolate state – Bankruptcies increased by 20 percent in the last quarter of 2021, according to the accounting firm UHY Hacker Young. As if that weren’t enough, the UK government’s ban on commercial evictions ends on Friday, the same day the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Act comes into force. Whilst rent arrears from the grace period – which for England means 20 March 2020 to 21 June 2021 – landlords will no longer be prevented from pursuing unpaid rent on other occasions. It means restaurants could be forced to pay rent for the periods they couldn’t open, leaving many in a precarious position.

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

  • Germany, Producer Price Index (PPI) for February

  • UK monthly house price data from Rightmove

  • Results: Nike Q3, Salzgitter GJ

Tuesday

  • Canada, Monthly Industrial Product and Commodity Price Indices

  • UK, CBI monthly survey of industrial trends and public sector net borrowing data

  • Results: Adobe Q1, Iliad GJ, kingfisher GJ

the Wednesday

  • Argentina, GDP figures for Q4

  • EU, monthly flash data on consumer confidence

  • South Africa, Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for February

  • UK, Spring Statement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, plus February PPI and CPI data, Office for National Statistics Home Price Index and Office for Budget Responsibility Economic and Fiscal Outlook

  • Results: General Mills Q3

Thursday

  • Eurozone, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US: IHS Markit Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) data

  • EU, General Council of the European Central Bank meets in Frankfurt

  • Japan, Minutes of the Bank of Japan’s monthly monetary policy meeting released

  • South Africa, South African Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee meeting

  • UK, CBI monthly retail trade survey, which highlights trends in the retail industry

  • Results: Next GJ

Friday

  • Germany, monthly business climate index of the ifo Institute

  • UK, Gfk Consumer Confidence plus ONS Retail Sales data for February

  • US, February pending home sales

  • Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey speaks at an online forum hosted by the CBI

  • Results: Smiths group GJ

world events

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

Monday

  • EU Foreign Affairs Council meets in Brussels to discuss including Ukraine crisis

  • UK, A thanksgiving service for British war singer Vera Lynn at London’s Westminster Abbey

Tuesday

  • Jordan, gubernatorial and local elections

  • World Water Day organized by the UN Environment Program to raise awareness on access and stewardship of water

the Wednesday

  • UK, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange marries his fiancee, lawyer Stella Moris, in Belmarsh prison

  • US, Saturday night live‘s Pete Davidson becomes the latest celebrity to head to the edge of space in Blue Origins New Shepard

Thursday

  • Belgium, last Covid-19 restrictions lifted and Brussels to host a summit of EU leaders and an extraordinary meeting of NATO heads of state

  • Ukraine, one calendar month since Russia launched its attack

  • According to a Reuters tally, the US death toll from Covid is expected to surpass 1 million

Friday

  • Feast of the Annunciation in the Roman Catholic Church

  • Greek national day celebrating the country’s 1921 declaration of independence

  • In the UK, the ban on commercial evictions introduced during the pandemic is ending

Saturday

  • France, Eiffel Tower turns off its lights as part of Earth Hour, calling for increased action to protect planet from climate change

  • Germany, elections in western Saarland

  • Malta, general elections

  • United Arab Emirates, The richest day in the world in horse racing, the Dubai World Cup is held at Meydan Racecourse

Sunday

  • Daylight saving time begins in the EU and UK

  • China, indirectly electing Hong Kong’s chief executive by a 1,500-member electoral committee, has criticized it for being biased towards pro-Beijing interests

  • Great Britain, Mothers Sunday

  • USA returns the 94th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, Los Angeles

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https://www.ft.com/content/16a766e2-641f-4ab6-ad07-d9df2f49a6b4 NATO chiefs meet as war in Ukraine enters second month

Adam Bradshaw

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