US financial markets are closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday and China is shut until Thursday for the lunar new year, so we have a slightly reduced calendar this week. Barclays and NatWest are the first of the UK banks to report full-year results, with some of the big miners updating too. Walmart also reports, as does China’s largest search engine provider Baidu. Flash PMIs from around the globe will give the first take on activity in February and the US Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its last meeting.
The World Health Organization is likely to issue an emergency use listing for the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine this week, possibly as early as Monday, following the recommendation that the vaccine can be use worldwide by all adults, including the elderly, in a boost for the jab after a series of setbacks.
The designation, a signal to countries with weaker regulatory systems that a vaccine meets WHO’s seal of approval, has already been granted for the BioNTech/Pfizer shot.
All passengers arriving into England from a list of 33 high-risk “red list” countries must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days from Monday, amid growing concerns among ministers over new variants of coronavirus first identified abroad.
The policy is part of a series of tough new border measures that includes a requirement for all travellers to take two tests for Covid-19 — on days two and eight after arrival — in addition to one they must take 72 hours before departure to the UK.
The booking system for the UK government’s Covid-19 hotel quarantine programme crashed within hours of going live last week.
Two of Wall Street’s leading hedge fund managers are on Thursday set to testify along with the chief executives of Reddit and Robinhood at a US congressional hearing on the market upheaval surrounding trading in GameStop shares.
The high-level roster of witnesses includes Citadel’s Ken Griffin and Melvin Capital’s Gabe Plotkin, as well as Reddit’s Steve Huffman and Robinhood’s Vlad Tenev.
Keith Gill, the trader known as “Roaring Kitty” who emerged as one of the key players in the GameStop trading, is also scheduled to appear.
Political attention of equities trading has increased sharply in recent weeks after a rally in GameStop shares, which was driven by retail investors who were active on the social media platform Reddit.
With the UK Budget nearing the UK’s public finances will be under extra scrutiny this Friday as government spending continues to rise owing to falling tax revenues and the high cost of support schemes for businesses and workers.
The public finances weakened in December as the government had to borrow £33.4bn to cover the gap between its spending and revenues — its so-called cash requirement.
That brought the total figure for the first nine months of the financial year to £318.1bn, nearly double the highest cash requirement in any other April-to-December period since records began in 1984.
Barclays and NatWest are the first of the big UK banks to report full-year results this week.
UK bank share prices fell sharply during 2020 as the economy suffered during the pandemic — by December Barclays shares were down 23 per cent since the start of 2020, while NatWest’s were 34 per cent lower.
Dividends will be back in focus now the banking regulator has given lenders the green light to resume payments, nine months after it asked them to suspend shareholder payouts and preserve capital at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The regulator has set a dividend limit of 25 per cent of a bank’s cumulative profits over the previous two years or 0.2 per cent of its risk-weighted assets — whichever is the higher.
Some of the big miners are also in action this week. BHP, which has kept all its mines running throughout the pandemic, reports half-year results, with underlying attributable profit for the six months to December forecast to come in at $6.3bn. JPMorgan expects it to achieve a $15bn profit for its full year to the end of June.
Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg is due to retire this summer after 19 years in charge and analysts expect his successor Gary Nagle to introduce himself to investors at this earnings call.
New chief executive Jakob Stausholm, who faces some crucial strategic decisions, will also be in the spotlight when Rio Tinto reports.
Big-box retailer Walmart is expected to post a rise in same-store sales on the back of demand for essentials during the holiday season. Investors will be on the lookout for any details about its subscription service, Walmart Plus.
The improving US farm economy is expected to boost profits when tractor maker Deere & Company reports, with raw material costs and supply shortages also likely to be in focus.
China’s largest search engine provider Baidu is set to benefit from a rebound in advertising revenue at its core search platform, along with an increase in subscribers on its Netflix-like video-streaming service.
A rebound in demand for semiconductor equipment is forecast to drive revenues at Applied Materials, while a surge in online traffic boosts ecommerce giant Shopify.
BHP Billiton; CVS Health; Glencore
Hilton; Shopify; Rio Tinto; Occidental Petroleum
Applied Materials; Newmont Mining; Walmart; Barclays; Marriott International; Orange; Daimler; Carrefour; Airbus; British American Tobacco; Hochschild Mining
Deere & Company; Hermès; Allianz
The first signs of how February fared on the activity front will be closely watched when flash PMI data for the US, Japan, the eurozone and the UK are released.
Slight falls for both services and manufacturing data are forecast in the US, but both are still likely to come in well above the 50 mark — anything higher signals expansion — and both categories are expected to continue to outperform Europe.
Still, the possibility that restrictions in Europe will be eased soon and the success of Britain’s vaccine rollout could spell a better services reading for the UK and the eurozone.
PMIs also make up a chunk of a data-heavy week for Japan, alongside industrial production and inflation, following on from GDP figures released just ahead of the start of our weekly calendar on Sunday night.
UK inflation is expected to show the rate of annual price increases slowing to 0.5 per cent, but this is expected to rise significantly as the year draws on — the Bank of England forecasts it will go higher than 2 per cent next year.
US retail sales are likely to bounce back strongly with a rise of 0.7 per cent month on month, reversing December’s similar fall. However, there is no indication the UK figure will enjoy such good fortune at the end of the week.
US industrial production finished 2020 strongly and is expected to have kept growing in January, but the eurozone reading is set to fall slightly after rising 2.5 per cent month on month in November.
It is a relatively quiet week for central bank meetings, with only Turkey and Indonesia likely to be of interest. Indonesia is expected to make a small rate cut, while investors will watch for any signs that Turkey is likely to start easing in the second half of 2021 if inflation peaks in the second quarter.
The other highlight is the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting, which should provide more insight into the current thinking on economic recovery and inflation as President Joe Biden settles in at the White House and his stimulus package makes its way through Congress.
Investors will be on the lookout for any divergence in views on inflation or signs the Fed is not quite as dovish as they have been led to believe.
Eurozone, industrial production (Dec)
Eurozone, gross domestic product (Q4, second release)
Germany, ZEW survey (Feb)
Japan, trade balance (Jan)
UK, inflation (Jan)
US, retail sales (Jan)
US, industrial production (Jan)
Canada, CPI (Jan)
US, Federal Reserve minutes
Indonesia; Turkey, rate decisions
US, initial jobless claims
Japan, CPI (Jan)
Eurozone, consumer confidence (Feb, flash)
Eurozone; Japan; US; UK, PMIs (Feb, flash)
UK, retail sales (Jan)
When central bank meetings run for more than one day they are listed on the date the meeting concludes and policy is announced