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Hello and welcome to the work week.

First the bad news. I’m afraid this week’s journal is full of more stark landmarks. After just passing the second anniversary of Covid-19 declared a global pandemic in early March, this Thursday marks a month since Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

NATO heads of state, including US President Joe Biden, will meet that day for an extraordinary meeting to discuss next steps related to the conflict. It will coincide with a pre-scheduled meeting of the European Council of leaders of the EU member states to discuss the energy crisis and Covid as well as the Ukrainian war.

The UK is facing the sharpest drop in living standards since the 1950s – and possibly two decades lost to the economy. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has the unenviable task of finding a solution to this on Wednesday when he presents his spring statement to the Westminster parliament. Is he going to introduce a windfall tax for energy companies? With better-than-expected public finances, the UK treasurer has some leeway to offset the financial pain on its way to UK households, but it will still be a challenging balancing act to alleviate the rising cost of living for many. Over the past 20 years, a series of economic shocks – from the financial crisis to the pandemic – have exposed structural weaknesses in the UK economy, so MBA graduate Sunak needs fresh ideas to transform the country, and fast.

On Saturday, the lights will go out in cities around the world, but not because of the energy crisis, we hope. It’s Earth Hour, the annual show of international affiliation on climate change, reminding us that we can do more to combat global warming by using less power.

So what about the good news this week? The US National Park Service estimates that cherry blossoms will peak in Washington in the coming days. The Oscars are also back in person with an awards ceremony in Hollywood on Sunday. And also on that day, in the UK and the EU, the clocks go forward an hour for daylight saving time, ushering in longer evenings for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere to get outside. It may be just what we need to cheer the spirits in these dark times.

economic data

The spending summary will coincide with economic data on the state of the UK economy – inflation, house prices and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s medium-term outlook for the economy. Forecasts for the distant future – that is, more than a few years – can be taken with a large dose of salt, but observers will be happy to see what the current shocks have done to growth forecasts in general.

If you’re looking for international comparisons, there’s the release of numerous Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) reports on Thursday. If you want even more UK data, we’ll get an update on consumer confidence and retail sales on Friday.

businesses

Expect some strong numbers from UK retailers reporting profits this week. Operator of home improvement chain Kingfisher – which reports full-year profits on Tuesday – raised its expectations in December, stressing that concerns over the end of the DIY store with the lifting of lockdown restrictions had not materialized. It was also a good Christmas period for clothing chain Next, which reported its figures on Thursday, after it also raised its expectations in December. The question is whether the sales boom can hold up given consumer confidence due to rising fuel costs and the war in Ukraine.

However, it will be a nervous week for British restaurateurs. The sector is in a dire situation: according to accounting firm UHY Hacker Young, the number of bankruptcies rose by 20 percent in the last quarter of 2021. As if that weren’t enough, the UK government’s ban on commercial evictions will end on Friday, the same day the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill comes into effect. While rent arrears from the protected period – meaning 20 March 2020 to 21 June 2021 for England – landlords will no longer be barred from taking action against unpaid rent on other occasions. It means restaurants could be forced to pay rent for the periods they couldn’t open, leaving many in a precarious position.

Key economic and business reports

Here’s a more complete list of what to expect this week in terms of business reports and economic data.

Monday

Germany February Producer Price Indices (PPI) for Industrial Products

UK, Rightmove monthly house price data

Results: Nike Q3, Salzgitter FY

Tuesday

Canada Monthly Price Indices for Industrial Products and Commodities

Monthly UK industry trends survey, CBI plus data on public sector net funding

Results: Adobe Q1, Iliad FY, Kingfisher FY

Wednesday

Argentina, fourth quarter GDP figures

EU, flash monthly consumer confidence data

South Africa Consumer Price Index (CPI) February data

UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spring statement, plus February PPI and CPI data, the Office for National Statistics house price index and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s economic and fiscal outlook

Results: General Mills Q3

Thursday

Eurozone, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US: IHS Markit Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data

EU, the General Council of the European Central Bank meets in Frankfurt

Japan, Minutes published from the Bank of Japan’s Monthly Monetary Policy Meeting

South Africa Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the South African Reserve Bank

Monthly survey of UK retail distribution, CBI shows retail trends

Results: Next FY

Friday

Germany, Ifo Institute monthly business confidence index

UK, Gfk consumer confidence figures plus US retail sales data in February

US, February pending home sales

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey speaks at an online forum hosted by the CBI

Results: Smiths Group FY

World Events

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

Monday

EU, Foreign Affairs Council meets in Brussels to discuss, among other things, the Ukrainian crisis

VK, a thanksgiving service for wartime British singer Vera Lynn at London’s Westminster Abbey

Tuesday

Jordan, gubernatorial and municipal elections

World Water Day, hosted by the UN Environment Program to raise awareness of water access and management

Wednesday

UK, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange marries his fiancée, lawyer Stella Moris, in Belmarsh prison

Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson becomes the latest celebrity to take a ride to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

Thursday

Belgium, final Covid-19 restrictions lifted plus Brussels hosts summit of EU leaders and extraordinary meeting of NATO heads of state

Ukraine, one calendar month since Russia launched its attack

US and Covid death toll will cross 1 million mark, according to a Reuters count

Friday

Feast of the Annunciation in the Roman Catholic Church

Greek National Day, celebrating the country’s declaration of independence in 1921

UK, commercial eviction ban – introduced during the pandemic – ends

Saturday

France, Eiffel Tower turns off lights as part of Earth Hour, calls for more action to protect planet from climate change

Germany, elections in the western state of Saarland

Malta, general election

United Arab Emirates, the world’s richest day in horse racing, the Dubai World Cup, will be held at the Meydan Racecourse

Sunday

Daylight saving time starts in the EU and UK

China, indirect election of Hong Kong’s chief executive by a 1,500-member electoral commission criticized for being weighted toward pro-Beijing interests

UK Mother Sunday

USA, The 94th Academy Awards (The Oscars) Ceremony Returns To The Dolby Theater In Hollywood, Los Angeles

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This post NATO leaders meet as war in Ukraine enters second month was original published at “https://www.ft.com/content/16a766e2-641f-4ab6-ad07-d9df2f49a6b4”

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