A new chapter for space travel and an anniversary for Nato

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Hello and welcome to the working week,

As TS Eliot wrote in his poem “The Waste Land”, “April is the cruellest month”. I say this not just because this week is the start of the UK tax year, but also because the centenary of what was one of the 20th century’s most important poems is being celebrated in London’s financial centre from this Thursday with a festival across 22 City churches.

It is hard to be optimistic about world events at the moment. What will happen in Ukraine? That’s impossible to predict. But there will be a lot more meetings, firstly between foreign ministers of the member states of Nato, which by coincidence commemorates its 73rd birthday this Monday. There will also be a gathering of EU finance ministers for the Ecofin conference, whose agenda includes trying to assess the economic impact of the conflict.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky continues his (virtual) tour of western parliaments to rally support — this week addressing the elected chambers of Dublin and Athens. Another coincidental anniversary: this Thursday is the seventh anniversary of the declaration of the Donetsk People’s Republic as a breakaway region from Ukraine.

Are there any reasons to be cheerful? Well, there will be some firsts for space travel this week. On Monday, Nasa will hold a press conference to discuss the final test stages — called a “wet dress rehearsal” — for its Artemis 1 rocket. The Artemis programme aims to return astronauts to the Moon and establish a long-term lunar colony as a precursor to human exploration of Mars.

Then on Wednesday, Axiom (or Ax-1), the first all-private astronaut rocket mission to the International Space Station, is due to launch from Nasa’s Kennedy space centre in Florida.

As the week draws to a close, democracy in western Europe will be in the spotlight with the first round of voting in the French presidential election on Sunday.

Not so long ago it could be said that none of the 11 challengers looked close to unseating incumbent Emmanuel Macron, but he now warns that he could lose the election to the far right. The fear is that Macron’s overwhelming success in the polls will foster voter apathy and a festering disillusionment with centrist politicians, as this excellent Big Read explains.

You will be able to get the latest updates on the French polls by clicking here. You can also cast your vote on The Week Ahead by sending me an email at [email protected] — I remain open to suggestions about what to include and leave out. Thank you for your comments.

Economic data

The thoughts of central bankers on the inflation conundrum will become a little clearer this week with the publication of the minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting.

IHS/Markit will provide some international comparisons on productivity, services and manufacturing with the publication of its purchasing managers’ index data for Europe, Asia and the US.

Companies

We are between earnings seasons, so the main corporate diary events this week are annual general meetings, notably Nokia — which recently reinstated its dividend — on Tuesday, UBS on Wednesday and Rio Tinto on Friday.

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.

Monday

  • Canada, Bank of Canada publishes its Business Outlook Survey

  • EU, industrial producer prices

  • Germany, February trade balance figures

  • UK, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey speaks at the Stop Scams Conference, and Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor, gives a talk at the European Economics & Financial Centre

  • US, February factory orders data

Tuesday

  • Australia, Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly monetary policy meeting

  • Eurozone, France, Germany, Italy, UK, US: IHS/Markit services and composite (manufacturing and services) purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data

  • Nokia AGM

  • South Korea, March inflation figures

Wednesday

  • Asia, China, EU, France, Germany, Global, UK: IHS/Markit productivity, services and construction PMI figures

  • EU, European Central Bank (ECB) publishes quarterly financial statements

  • Germany, February factory order and consumer goods statistics

  • Russia, consumer price index (CPI) figures

  • Sweden, February gross domestic product data

  • TeliaSonera AGM

  • UBS AGM

  • UK, British Retail Consortium NielsenIQ March Shop Price Index

  • US, Federal Open Market Committee publishes minutes of its March meeting

Thursday

  • EU, the ECB’s monetary policy accounts plus eurozone February retail sales data

  • Germany, February industrial production figures

  • UK, Office for National Statistics quarterly productivity figures, plus Halifax March house price index. Bank of England chief economist Huw Pill gives the opening remarks at the bank’s 8th International Conference on Sovereign Bond Markets

Friday

  • Canada, March unemployment data

  • CMC Markets pre-close full-year update

  • France, industrial production figures

  • Italy, February retail sales data

  • Japan, February trade balance figures

  • Norway, February GDP data

  • Rio Tinto AGM

Saturday

World events

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

Monday

  • 73rd anniversary of the foundation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato), created with the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington

  • US, Nasa holds a media teleconference to discuss the final major test of its Mega Moon rocket and spacecraft Artemis 1

Tuesday

  • EU, Ecofin Council of economic and finance ministers meets in Luxembourg. The agenda includes agreeing a general approach on a global minimum tax level of not less than 15 per cent for large multinational corporations, plus there will be a discussion on the economic and financial aspects of the war in Ukraine

  • Japan, ban on the export of high-end cars and other luxury goods to Russia comes into force

Wednesday

  • Belgium, Nato foreign ministers will gather in Brussels for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, chaired by Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

    They will be joined on Thursday by the foreign ministers of Australia, Finland, Georgia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Sweden and Ukraine, plus the EU high representative for foreign affairs

  • Ireland, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will give a virtual address to a joint sitting of both houses of parliament in Dublin

  • UK, Start of the 2022/23 tax year. The threshold at which people begin to pay income tax was set by chancellor Rishi Sunak at £12,570, and £50,270 in April 2021, and will be frozen for five years

  • UK, Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 comes into force, allowing married couples to divorce without assigning blame

  • US, Axiom (or Ax-1), the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, is due to launch from Nasa’s Kennedy space centre in Florida

Thursday

  • World Health Day when the World Health Organization publishes its annual World Health Report

  • Ukraine, seventh anniversary of the declaration of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

  • Greece, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky gives an online address to the parliament in Athens

  • UK, the England and Wales County Championship cricket season begins

  • US Masters golf tournament begins at the Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia

Friday

  • UK, ballot closes among members of the University and College Union (UCU) on settlement for pensions, pay and conditions to avoid further strike action during the end-of-year exam season

Saturday

  • Georgia, Day of National Unity commemorating the Tbilisi tragedy in 1989, when Soviet army attempts to disperse demonstrators resulted in at least 20 deaths

  • UK, 174th Grand National takes place at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool

Sunday

  • France, first round of the country’s presidential election

  • Israel, Palm Sunday is marked at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

  • South Caucasus, presidential election in South Ossetia

Finally, this week sees the launch of Working It, a new newsletter from work & careers editor Isabel Berwick on the big ideas shaping today’s workplaces, from the future of hybrid work to the effects of the Great Reshuffle. Sign up here.

Trade Secrets — A must-read on the changing face of international trade and globalisation. Sign up here

The Road to Recovery — Covid’s impact on the global economy, markets and business. Sign up here

Simonne Stigall

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