Week ahead: Davos, Trump impeachment trial, ECB

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Despite a holiday-shortened week in the US, next week’s calendar is jam packed as the Trump impeachment trial gets under way in earnest, Davos 2020 kicks off and earnings season continues. Here’s what to watch in the coming days.DavosThe World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, kicks off next week and the theme this time round is, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”. Climate change, healthcare challenges, reducing inequality and ethics in technology are among the major themes at this year’s gathering of business and political leaders from around the world. Climate and environmental activist Greta Thunberg, German chancellor Angela Merkel, US president Donald Trump, Bollywood actress and founder of Live Love Laugh Foundation Deepika Padukone and United Nations under-secretary Winnie Byanyima are among the featured speakers. Read Gillian Tett’s conversation with Klaus Schwab on the WEF’s future.Impeachment trialMr Trump’s impeachment trial is set to begin in earnest next week, with opening arguments in the Senate on Tuesday. The president has named Kenneth Starr, who investigated former president Bill Clinton, and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz to his legal team. Mr Trump has been accused of misusing his office to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into political rival Joe Biden. The Government Accountability Office, an independent congressional watchdog, has said the White House broke the law by choosing to withhold aid. Mr Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a largely party-line vote late last year. The president has denied any wrongdoing, calling impeachment a “con job” by Democrats. US earningsBanks delivered a solid start to Q4 earnings season and more than 40 companies listed on the S&P 500 are expected to release results as corporate reporting enters its second week. The roster includes Netflix, Johnson & Johnson, Intel, IBM and carriers like United, Southwest and American Air Lines. Central banksThe Bank of Japan and Bank of Canada are scheduled to issue monetary policy updates next week. The Bank of Japan will deliver its interest rate decision on Tuesday and is widely expected to announce no change to monetary policy. “Pressure on the BoJ to ease has subsided considerably over the past few months,” note economists at Bank of America, following an easing in trade tensions, fewer Brexit-related disruptions and some improved data from China. Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada on Wednesday is expected to leave interest rates unchanged. “We still suspect the market is underestimating the chances of a rate cut in the next few months,” economists at ING said. They note that while the bank “seems relatively relaxed” it may have to intervene “to provide a little more support to the economy early this year”. European Central BankThe ECB holds its first monetary policy meeting of the decade and delivers its decision on Thursday. Markets expect the meeting to be uneventful and President Christine Lagarde is expected to unveil details of the central bank’s upcoming strategy review. Strategists at TD Securities expect the ECB to be “fairly upbeat” following recent developments on the trade front, “a stabilising economy, and underlying inflation showing a bit more strength”. They now expect the central bank will keep rates unchanged through this year and the next, compared with their previous forecast for two rate cuts in 2020. US markets will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day on Monday.

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