Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Americans head to the polls for midterms

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This article is an on-site version of our The Week Ahead newsletter. Sign up here to get the newsletter sent straight to your inbox every Sunday

Hello and welcome to the working week.

Firstly, thank you Rafe Uddin for shepherding this newsletter last week while I took a look ahead to my eldest son’s future with some university open days. Now, back to this week and this year’s theme of important ballots.

The biennial event of a nationally significant American election is upon us with the US midterms. All 435 House seats and 35 of the 100 Senate seats are on the ballot on Tuesday. Joe Biden is so concerned that last week he hit the campaign trail, ramping up the rhetoric.

The Democrats are likely to lose control of the House and the upper chamber is on a knife edge. That (or rather the divided government it will create) is bad news for investors, according to Unhedged’s Rob Armstrong. FT columnist Janan Ganesh blames the voters.

Want to know more? This Thursday, FT journalists Edward Luce, Rana Foroohar and James Politi will be joined by veteran commentator Norm Ornstein for a subscriber-exclusive event assessing the US midterm results. Register free today and you can submit questions in advance for our panel.

You can get also subscribe to the Swamp Notes newsletter, which does an excellent job probing the intersection of money and power in American politics, and is currently free to read.

Across the Atlantic, the COP27 gathering in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, provides a focus for climate change news over the coming days (and weeks). More than 100 world leaders will be attending, including Rishi Sunak after he found time in his diary, but not King Charles.

Again, you can get more insights from the FT. Starting Monday, FT Live will be hosting a series of in-person, virtual and hybrid discussions with leading thinkers on sustainability and senior FT journalists. Each one will complement the themes set out in the presidency programme that day. Register your interest here.

Get in touch by sending me a note at jonathan.moules@ft.com, or if you have received the newsletter by email, just hit reply.

Economic data

Inflation is the main theme of economic news this week with consumer price index and producer price index updates from the US, China, Germany and Japan. Whatever the US figure, Fed chair Jay Powell made it crystal clear in his comments last week that his team will do what it takes to squeeze inflation out of the economy. The consensus is for a 0.7 per cent increase in the monthly US figure to create an annual figure of 8.1 per cent.

The Bank of England’s gloomy projections last Thursday that the UK is entering its longest recession since the second world war sets the tone for this week’s big UK economic news item: the first estimate of third-quarter GDP on Friday. This is expected to show a contraction of about 0.2 per cent quarter on quarter.

Companies

With high street sales down in the UK and talk of a prolonged recession, British retail is not in a good place. But this week, might provide some respite — and we’re not just talking about the return of free coffee at Waitrose.

Marks and Spencer will on Wednesday present its first results under new management after the retirement of former chief executive and company lifer Steve Rowe over the summer. His replacement, Stuart Machin, has already set out his stall in terms of accelerating the overhaul of the store estate and redoubling cost-cutting efforts so the focus is likely to be on current trading. Rival Next last week stuck by its full-year guidance after sales held up in early autumn. M&S investors — who haven’t had a dividend since November 2019 — will be hoping Machin does likewise.

WHSmith profits are set for a bounce as the world’s travel industry recovers from Covid lockdowns. Travel revenue, much of which comes from airport stores, was already running well ahead of pre-pandemic levels at its last update in early September. Meanwhile, there were few hints of a slowdown in quarterly results from airport duty-free group Dufry last week.

The key constraint is capacity limits at major airports, notably London Heathrow. No doubt there will be further discussion of this on Monday when Ryanair reports first half numbers. Low-cost airlines like Ryanair are having to adapt to the end of, er, low-cost air travel, the answer to which has been to try to take business from the more expensive carriers.

The tail-end of the season’s tech earnings news is likely to continue the gloomy mood. Lyft, reporting on Monday, last week announced significant job cuts, its second round of redundancies in recent months. Lyft is not alone among tech firms having to tighten their respective belts, but it does not look good for the ride hailing service, a smaller rival to Uber, which is also selling its vehicle service business.

Elsewhere, we have a clutch of drugmaker updates. BioNTech, which reports on Monday, is among several Covid-19 vaccine producers that have begun raising the price of their jabs amid concerns about falling demand in 2023. Airfinity, a health data analytics group, forecasts sales of Covid vaccines falling by about a fifth to $47bn next year. There are also concerns about AstraZeneca, which reveals third-quarter figures on Thursday, after the nasal version of its Covid vaccine failed in trials. Better news is expected from German drugs and chemicals group Bayer, whose figures are out on Tuesday.

Key economic and company reports

Here is a more complete list of what to expect in terms of company reports and economic data this week.

Monday

  • China, October trade balance figures

  • Germany, September industrial production data

  • Indonesia, Q3 GDP figures

  • UK, Halifax house price index

  • Results: BioNTech Q3, Lyft Q3, Ryanair H1, Take-Two Q2, Westpac Banking Corp FY

Tuesday

  • EU, September eurozone retail sales data

  • France, September trade balance figures

  • Japan, September trade balance data

  • UK, British Retail Consortium sales figures

  • Results: Associated British Foods FY, Bayer Q3, CNH Industrial Q3, Deutsche Post DHL Q3, Direct Line Q3 trading update, DuPont Q3, Henkel Q3, Mitsubishi H1, Munich Re Q3, News Corp Q1, Nintendo Q2, NTT Q3, Pandora Q3, Persimmon trading update, Salvatore Ferragamo Q3, Suzuki Motor Q2, Walt Disney Company Q4

Wednesday

  • China, October consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI) inflation rate data

  • Mexico, October CPI inflation rate data

  • Poland, monthly base rate decision

  • Results: ABN Amro Q3, Adidas Q3, Ahold Q3, Bank of Ireland Q3 trading update, Commerzbank Q3, E.ON Q3, FirstGroup H1, Honda Q2, ITV Q3 trading update, J D Wetherspoon Q1 trading update, Kirin Holdings Q3, M&S H1, National Australia Bank FY, Nissan Motor Corp H1, Tata Motors Q2, Taylor Wimpey trading update, Veolia Q3

Thursday

  • Brazil, October IPCA inflation rate data

  • Japan, October PPI inflation rate data

  • Philippines, Q3 GDP figures

  • UK, RICS house price survey

  • US, October CPI inflation rate data

  • Results: 3i H1, Allianz Q3, ArcelorMittal Q3, AstraZeneca Q3, Auto Trader H1, B&M H1, Becton Dickinson and Company Q4, Bridgestone Q3, Brookfield Asset Management Q3, Continental Q3, Crédit Agricole Q3, Deutsche Telekom Q3, Grafton trading update, National Grid H1, Qinetiq H1, Ralph Lauren Q2, Tate & Lyle H1, WHSmith FY

Friday

  • EU, European Commission economic forecasts

  • Germany, October CPI inflation rate data

  • India, September industrial production figures

  • Malaysia, Q3 GDP data

  • Mexico, September industrial production figures

  • UK, Q3 GDP and trade balance figures

  • Results: Richemont Q2, SoftBank Q2, Toshiba Q2

World events

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

Monday

  • EU, meeting of eurozone finance ministers ahead of tomorrow’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) meeting of all EU finance ministers

  • US, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two important cases for regulators: Axon Enterprise vs Federal Trade Commission; and Securities and Exchange Commission vs Cochran. Should the court side with the plaintiffs over the FTC and SEC, it would become easier for parties to challenge enforcement actions in federal court before regulators have concluded internal proceedings.

Tuesday

  • A total lunar eclipse, visible in Tokyo, most of Australia and New Zealand

  • Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to meet new Swedish prime minister Ulf Kristersson in Ankara to discuss Stockholm’s bid to join Nato and the extradition of people the Turkish government considers terrorists

  • US, midterm elections

Wednesday

  • Egypt, finance ministers convene to reflect their commitment to climate action at COP27

  • EU, European Commission to publish proposals for changing EU fiscal rules to make them more realistic given high public debt after the Covid pandemic

  • UK, North Sea oil and gas explorer and producer Ithaca Energy starts trading on the London Stock Exchange, seeking to raise as much as $357mn and testing investor appetite for a rare fossil fuel flotation

Thursday

  • UK, Guinness World Records Day

  • US, Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to launch the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2), an extreme weather monitoring satellite, from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California

Friday

  • Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, commemorates the ending of the first world war in various Commonwealth countries

  • France, Paris Peace Forum begins

  • Poland, Independence Day national holiday

  • US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen travels to New Delhi for the US-India Economic and Financial Partnership meeting

  • US, Veterans Day public holiday

Saturday

  • Bahrain, parliamentary elections

  • UK, parade for the new Lord Mayor of London from Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice, a tradition to promote the financial district dating back to the 13th century

Sunday

  • Italy, Nitto ATP Finals begin in Turin

  • Slovenia, second-round ballot in presidential election

  • UK, Remembrance Sunday

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