It is a bold commentator that tries to predict the conclusion of the diplomatic game of chess that is the Ukraine-Russia border crisis. But the next seven days will produce some significant moves, if not an attempt at checkmate.
Perhaps the strangest event of the week will be on Thursday, when Russia, as current head of the UN Security Council, is due to chair a discussion at the body’s global headquarters in New York about the Ukraine crisis.
But before then we have the new German chancellor Olaf Scholz travelling to Moscow and Kyiv to try to ease the tension. He follows in the footsteps of France’s Emmanuel Macron and UK prime minister Boris Johnson — and the stakes are high for all European economies — but Scholz’s meetings have a particular significance given Germany’s need for a new Ostpolitik, or eastern policy, as Timothy Garton Ash explained in his FT opinion piece this week.
On Wednesday, attention will switch to Nato, where defence chiefs from the member nations are gathering in Brussels.
It’s then back to Germany on Friday as the Munich Security Conference begins. Speakers include Kamala Harris, US vice-president. She is expected to use her trip to meet US allies and partners to deter Russian aggression. It will therefore be a test of her diplomatic skills.
The story of 2022, inflation, will be back with another instalment this week as India, China, Japan, the US, the UK and Canada all report data in one form or another — consumer price index or producer price index figures. Employment data are also due from the UK and the EU. Elsewhere, Japan updates us on its quarterly GDP plus the Fed and Reserve Bank of Australia publish their policy meeting minutes.
Food is a theme for this week’s corporate earnings, with analyst calls for the heavyweights of supermarket retailing on either side of the Atlantic — Carrefour and Walmart — as well as consumer goods companies.
Investors in the former will be looking for signs of progress in chief executive Alexandre Bompard’s turnround strategy. Expectations are higher for Walmart, the world’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailer, which has already raised guidance for the full-year earnings it will report on Thursday. However, both companies are under pressure from the global forces of supply chain snarl-ups and rising inflation.
Nestlé has been one of the market’s favourite consumer goods companies under chief executive Mark Schneider. He has shifted its portfolio into fast-growing areas such as plant-based foods, meal kits and pet food. But its 2021 figures, due on Thursday, will reflect a tough comparison with a year earlier, when coronavirus lockdowns boosted sales of items such as coffee. Investors will also be scrutinising how the world’s largest food company expects to deal with rampant cost inflation that has cut into rivals’ margins.
Read the full week ahead calendar