New Hampshire primary, coronavirus, UK cabinet reshuffle

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The next stage in the US presidential election takes place on Wednesday, when the Democrats hold their primary vote in New Hampshire. In Ireland, talks are likely to open on formation of a new coalition government following Sunday’s tight election.For the companies watchers some big-tech court cases, featuring Facebook, Google and Qualcomm, are coming up this week. The first of the UK big banks, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, are among a host reporting fourth-quarter earnings.The coronavirus will again dominate events, leaving its mark on much of the economic data and company results released this week. On Friday, the quarantine period expires for the first British nationals flown back from Wuhan in China.A range of inflation data is out, including China and the US, and growth figures are coming in from the eurozone, Germany and the UK.Jay Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, reports to Congress on the state of the economy while two of Donald Trump’s nominations to sit on the Fed’s board of governors will also be heard.New Hampshire primaryThe Democratic presidential race moves on Tuesday to a primary in New Hampshire, the second state to pick a favourite from among the candidates, following the Iowa caucuses, and the counting fiasco.The first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire account for less than 2 per cent of delegates, but traditionally command outsized significance as a forum for establishing a candidate’s momentum and thinning the field. In Iowa Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, beat expectations. Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, also did well and leads the polls in neighbouring New Hampshire.
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Joe Biden performed less well, but the former vice-president’s showing is expected to pick up in South Carolina, which votes later this month. However, he will no doubt want to gain traction in this vote to keep him high in the game.UK cabinet reshuffleBoris Johnson is expected to reshape his cabinet on Thursday in a big moment for his new government. The prime minister is likely to use his post-election reshuffle to heal divisions in a party scarred by Brexit and the 2019 Tory leadership contest. The first meeting of his new team will take place on Friday.Penny Mordaunt, the former defence secretary who backed Jeremy Hunt as leader, is tipped by Tory MPs to make a return to the cabinet.BrexitScotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon will deliver a speech on Scotland’s European future after Brexit in Brussels on Monday. The next day Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, and Michel Barnier, the commission’s chief negotiator, will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the future partnership with the UK.Background reading● Wolfgang Münchau: Britain and the EU are negotiating at cross purposesMunich security conferenceThe Munich Security Conference opens on Friday, bringing together foreign and defence ministers, and security experts from around the globe for the annual conference.Singapore air showAsia’s largest air show is scheduled to open on Tuesday, though it is now likely to be a much more subdued affair than usual because of coronavirus. Several events at the show have already been cancelled.Hungary speechViktor Orban, Hungary’s anti-immigration prime minister, is scheduled to give his annual state-of-the-nation speech on Sunday, where he is expected to lay out steps to boost the economy and comment on EU policy. Hungary has tested the EU consensus on policies from dealing with migrants to the rule of law, and has lately pushed the boundaries of the bloc’s common foreign policy positions.Companies news and earningsUS tax authorities will take on Facebook in a San Francisco court case beginning on Wednesday. The Internal Revenue Service claims the social media platform owes more than $9bn in taxes linked to the transfer of global assets to Facebook’s Irish subsidiary, alleging the company’s accountants may have undervalued them by billions of dollars.The same day Google will seek to convince Europe’s second-highest court to overturn the first of three EU antitrust fines levied against it after a competition probe ruled that the dominant search group had spent 10 years blocking rival online advertisers.Then on Thursday US regulators will face off in a 5G court tussle when lawyers from two federal antitrust agencies will argue opposite sides of a Qualcomm case that could help shape the race to develop 5G technology.The Department of Justice has taken the US chipmaker’s side as Qualcomm tries to overturn its loss at trial last year in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit filed in the final days of the Obama administration.Lawyers for the DoJ’s antitrust division have argued US national security is at stake, while FTC attorneys counter that the DoJ is interfering with antitrust enforcement.On the earnings side, nearly 70 companies are slated to report results on the S&P 500 this week, including PepsiCo, Kraft Heinz, Hasbro, Cisco, Nvidia and AIG. Canadian jet and train maker Bombardier also reports.Alibaba is expected to post a rise in third-quarter revenue on Thursday, as its ecommerce segment benefits from the holiday season. Again investors will be on the lookout for how the company will deal with the coronavirus. Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are the first two of the big UK banks to report their final results. Investors will be hoping for strong trading performance from Barclays on Thursday in line with its US rivals. On Friday RBS chief executive Alison Rose is set to announce a strategy to prune the state-owned lender’s underperforming investment banking arm NatWest Markets following pressure from investors.Over in Europe, Commerzbank, Germany’s second-biggest listed lender, is expected to update on progress with its turnround plan following the collapse of merger talks with rival Deutsche Bank.Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank that has just ousted its chief executive Tidjane Thiam in the wake of a spying scandal, also reports.French carmaker Renault brings out its full-year results on Friday, and investors will be particularly focused on three areas of concern: the health of its core business, its strategy to reduce CO2 emissions, and finally its difficult relationship with alliance partner Nissan.Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company by sales, reports annual results on Thursday, with investors keen to see what chief executive Mark Schneider will do next as he pushes to adapt the portfolio to suit rapidly changing consumer tastes.Amsterdam-based Takeaway.com reports on Thursday, when Jitse Groen, Takeaway.com’s founder and chief executive, is set to lay out his strategy to integrate Just Eat, the London-based food ordering pioneer. Airbus, AstraZeneca, carmaker Daimler, UK online retailer Ocado, Anglo-German travel group Tui and oil and UK-listed explorer Tullow Oil also report this week. Central banks Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell delivers his semi-annual testimony to Congress, appearing before committees in the House on Tuesday and Senate on Wednesday. The US economy received a boost last Friday, when far more jobs than forecast were added in January, but this will be tempered somewhat by the likely economic cost of the rapid spread of the coronavirus.A hearing will also be heard on two of Donald Trump’s nominations for the Fed’s board of governors, Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller, on Thursday.Mr Waller is seen as a fairly conventional candidate, but Ms Shelton has questioned the basic role of the Fed, questioning its Soviet-style powers over the markets in the Financial Times last year: “How can a dozen, slightly less than a dozen, people meeting eight times a year, decide what the cost of capital should be versus some kind of organically, market supply determined rate? The Fed is not omniscient. They don’t know what the right rate should be. How could anyone?”Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who steps down next month, makes his final appearance before the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on Tuesday to answer questions on financial stability, Brexit, productivity and the effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the economy.His successor, Andrew Bailey, also addresses the Lords on Wednesday about rules for the finance sector after Brexit, in one of his last duties as head of the Financial Conduct Authority.It is a fairly quiet week for policy meetings proper — the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Sweden’s Riksbank both meet on Wednesday. A run of positive data should be enough to keep rates on hold for the RBNZ, while Sweden’s Riksbank is now widely expected to keep rates on hold for much of 2020 after the central bank ended nearly five years of negative interest rates with a return to zero last year. On Thursday, Mexico is expected to lower its key rate for the fifth consecutive meeting, while Peru is likely to keep rates on hold.On Tuesday Brazil releases the minutes of its last meeting, when it signalled an end to the current easing cycle.Economic dataChina will be in focus on Monday when it releases January readings for its consumer and producer price indices. The coronavirus outbreak is likely to have added more inflationary pressure as people began stocking up on food and essentials, with CPI set to rise while PPI stays flat. Markets Questions has more on what action the country could take to offset the coronavirus impact.The US updates on inflation on Thursday. The cost of living as measured by CPI has increased in the past year, with price rises at 2.3 per cent year on year as of December. Yet, despite this uptick, officials at the Federal Reserve remain profoundly concerned about the low level of inflation in the US.Background reading● Gavyn Davies: The Federal Reserve’s new inflation regime US retail sales set for Friday are expected to show a slight rise, while industrial production figures the same day are likely to show a slight fall. India, Israel, Egypt, Poland and Ghana also have inflation data releases this week.South African unemployment data on Tuesday will probably show joblessness remaining near the highest in at least 11 years, adding pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce growth-boosting reforms in his state-of-the-nation address on Thursday.The European Commission will update its economic forecasts on Thursday — the eurozone economy has stabilised of late, but this sentiment could again be tempered by the coronavirus fallout.The eurozone has its second print of GDP data out on Friday, which is expected to give a clearer picture of how the German economy fits into the slowdown reported in the first take.Germany’s flash growth figure is released the same day, and is at risk of reporting another contraction on Friday, following last week’s sharp fall in factory orders. UK growth figures released on Tuesday are expected to be flat.Colombia reports its fourth-quarter GDP figures on Friday, which are set to show it is one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies.

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