Saturday, March 25, 2023

Week Ahead: Springing forward | Financial Times

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Hello and welcome to the working week.

If you are reading this in the northern hemisphere — and subscribe to meteorological definition of the seasons — the good news is that we are rapidly heading into spring. And like the promise of warmer and longer days (not to mention daffodils for St David’s Day on Wednesday), there is some reason for cheer amid the news diary gloom.

But first, the really depressing one. Few need reminding about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, but it is worth noting — and no doubt will be by other media outlets — that Monday is the ninth anniversary of the pro-Russian uprising in Crimea that led to the annexation of the peninsula. If you want some idea of a way forward, I’d recommend the Weekend essay on what the Cold War taught us about containing Russia.

Also on Monday, British households will get some clarity (and perhaps good news) on where their fuel bills are heading when Ofgem updates its energy price cap for the coming quarter. The average annual UK domestic charge had been expected to rise £500 to £3,000 (lower than Ofgem’s headline figure, thanks to the government’s Energy Price Guarantee), and confidence is growing that this upper limit will be frozen after heavy lobbying from campaigners.

The outlook is mixed for that other rolling UK story: the surge in strikes. A surprise drop in public sector borrowing has brought hope of a resolution to many of the pay disputes, but the situation remains complicated.

Some action due to take place this week has been postponed to enable negotiations on settlements, while others (such as the TSSA rail union) have approved offers. But we start on Monday with yet more walk outs and a threat of new disputes springing up as the deadline for ballots among NHS consultants and rail workers conclude on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

So what about some unashamed good news? Well, for astronauts the only way is up. Nasa’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station is due to launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida early on Monday morning local time. You can follow events live on the agency’s website.

Thank you for all those who got in touch during my break last week — GCSE mocks have started at our children’s school, and we’ve even had some (positive) results back. Get in touch with any comments you have about this or other items in this note by emailing me at or, if you are reading this on email yourself, hitting reply.


One season drawing to a close is the earnings one.

One to watch will be Salesforce on Wednesday as the activist investors circle. The core problem has been a lack of attention to profit margins at the expense of growth — Wall Street has complained about this for years, but the software company’s growth was always enough to fend off the naysayers. Unfortunately for co-founder and chief executive Marc Benioff, growth has taken a dip (see the chart below) leaving him exposed — and the job cuts, while significant, so far don’t go far enough.

You are seeing a snapshot of an interactive graphic. This is most likely due to being offline or JavaScript being disabled in your browser.

The full-year results from Serco were supposed to come last Thursday, but a request by auditors KPMG for more time means they will now be out on Tuesday. Investors and analysts will be listening carefully to recently appointed chief executive Mark Irwin in case he heralds a change in direction for the outsourcer.

Rival Capita, which reports two days later, has been disposing its non-core businesses to raise cash, so watch out for an update on this.

This week also sees the annual gathering of mobile telecoms industry executives and tech enthusiasts in Barcelona for the MWC trade show, offering a chance for chief executives to comment on the future direction of the wireless networked world and companies to launch new digital toys.

Economic data

It’s a quieter week for economic data reports with inflation and GDP updates the most common items. Another set of purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reports, this time for manufacturing, will add to the international comparisons of economic performance, although less use for observers of the UK’s performance than last week’s services PMI data.

The minutes of the last European Central Bank Governing Council monetary policy committee meeting and the US and eurozone consumer confidence figures could help provide some indication of future interest rate movements on either side of the Atlantic.

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.


  • EU, February eurozone consumer confidence data

  • Russia, central bank publishes report on inflation expectations

  • Spain, mobile telecoms industry trade show MWC begins in Barcelona

  • UK, Competition Appeal Tribunal holds a case management conference for Dr Rachael Kent vs Apple in a case alleging the US-based computer company abused its dominant position by charging a 30 per cent commission on app sales via its devices.

  • UK, judicial review begins to assess Octopus Energy’s acquisition of collapsed energy supplier Bulb after rivals British Gas, E. ON and Scottish Power challenged the takeover at London’s High Court. The three rival suppliers say the British government’s funding for the takeover amounts to an unlawful subsidy.

  • Results: Associated British Foods trading update, Bunzl FY, DX (Group) H1, Heidrick & Struggles Q4, Lending Tree Q4, Viatris Q4, Zoom Q4


  • Canada, Q4 GDP figures

  • France, February flash Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) inflation rate data

  • France, final Q4 GDP figures

  • India, Q4 GDP figures

  • Japan, January industrial production data (AM local time)

  • Stephanie Linnartz joins Under Armour as the sports clothing brand’s new president and chief executive

  • UK, secondary school performance data in England

  • US, February Conference Board consumer confidence survey

  • Results: abrdn FY, Adecco Q4, Alcon Q4, AMC Entertainment Holdings Q4, Bayer FY, Duolingo Q4, Ferrovial FY, HP Q1, Jones Lang LaSalle Q4, Man Group FY, Moncler FY, Ocado FY, St James’s Place FY, Schrodinger Q4, Serco FY, Target Q4, Travis Perkins FY, Unite Group FY, Universal Health Services Q4


  • Canada, China, Eurozone, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, US, UK: S&P Global/Caixin manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data

  • Germany, February flash HICP inflation rate data

  • Germany, February unemployment rate figures

  • UK, Nationwide house price index

  • Results: Abercrombie & Fitch FY, Atos FY, Juventus H1, Kohl’s Q4, Kuehne+Nagel FY, Liberty Media Q4, Lowe’s Q4, Persimmon FY, Petrobras Q4, Reckitt Benckiser FY, Royal Bank of Canada Q1, Salesforce Q4, Weir Group FY


  • EU, January unemployment figures

  • EU, February flash HICP inflation rate data

  • European Central Bank publishes monetary policy committee minutes

  • International Energy Agency publishes its latest Global Energy Review

  • US, Q4 labour productivity statistics

  • Results: Anheuser-Busch InBev Q4, Beazley FY, Best Buy Q4, Broadcom Q1, Capita FY, Costco Q2, CRH FY, Flutter Entertainment FY, Funding Circle FY, ITV FY, Kroger Q4, London Stock Exchange FY, Macy’s Q4, Melrose FY, Merck FY, Metro Bank FY, National Express FY, Nordstrom Q4, Salvatore Ferragamo FY, Schroders FY, Six Flags Entertainment Q4, Taylor Wimpey FY, Universal Music Group Q4, Veolia Environnement FY


  • China, India, Japan: S&P Global composite (manufacturing and services) PMI data

  • France, January industrial production figures

  • Japan, January jobless rate (AM local time)

  • US, Federal Reserve Monetary Policy Report

  • Results: Pearson FY, Rightmove FY, Victoria’s Secret Q4

World events

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


  • EU energy ministers meet in Stockholm as part of the Swedish presidency of the European Council

  • Ukraine, ninth anniversary of pro-Russian activists seizing Crimean government buildings in a move that would lead to the peninsular’s annexation by Russia. The 47-member UN Human Rights Council will use the anniversary as a hook for discussions in Geneva on human rights crises around the globe.

  • UK, energy regulator Ofgem will update its energy price cap for the three months starting April 1.

  • UK, British Medical Association strike ballot closes for NHS consultants to decide whether they will stage industrial action over pay levels. Separately, PCS Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) staff will strike as part of a national campaign over pay, pensions, job security and redundancy terms, but the University and College Union as well as the Royal College of Nursing have suspended strikes due for this week for negotiations on a pay deal.

  • US, Nasa’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission launches, bound for the International Space Station


  • Cyprus, Green Monday public holiday

  • Taiwan, Peace Memorial day bridge public holiday

  • EU, Bank of England monetary policy committee member Catherine Mann speaks at the EIB Annual Forum and Chief Economists Meeting in Luxembourg

  • UK, Over 350 GMB union members at Amazon’s West Midland fulfilment centre in Coventry hold a one-day strike, while National Education Union (NEU) members at schools in the north of England (followed by the rest of the nation and Wales in the following two days) and teachers in Scotland strike over pay.


  • First day of meteorological spring in the northern hemisphere

  • St David’s Day, commemorating the patron saint of Wales

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, Independence Day public holiday

  • UK, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey speech at the Cost of Living Crisis Conference in London



  • Australia, the Avalon international air show begins in Geelong, Victoria

  • US, German chancellor Olaf Scholz meets US president Joe Biden in his first state visit to the White House



  • Estonia, parliamentary elections

  • Russia, 70th anniversary of the death of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin

  • UK, annual ticket price increases for London’s public transport will see fares rising by an average of 5.9 per cent

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