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Deadline day looms in Afghanistan

Global Economy updates

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Hello and welcome to the working week.

You might have wondered why this newsletter has had so little to say about by far the biggest news story of this summer — Afghanistan. It is not because of lack of interest, but the point of The Week Ahead is to keep you abreast of the news diary — things that have been written into someone’s schedule.

This week, something Afghan-related has been written into the US president’s diary, in thick marker pen: the deadline for withdrawal of American troops (and by proxy every other allied soldier) will arrive on Tuesday. The situation for the president is probably best summarised by my colleague Ed Luce’s analysis of whether this is Biden’s Jimmy Carter moment.

Most schools in the UK and Israel begin their autumn term on Wednesday — schools in Scotland went back earlier this month — so expect more analysis of the impact this has on Covid-19 cases.

Tuesday will be the 24th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. This would not be noteworthy except that the damning report into the BBC’s 1995 Panorama interview with the late mother of the UK’s second in line to the throne is still relatively fresh and that Spencer, a much trailed film about her marriage to Prince Charles, will be screened this week at the Venice Film Festival.

Thank you to all those who have offered support and advice for this column — please keep them coming to [email protected]. One request was for a piece I have particularly enjoyed in the past seven days, and this week there was no contest: it has to be my colleague Robert Armstrong’s take on the death of the office suit. This is a subject close to my heart/wardrobe, and a move to casual attire I have not found easy — as Rob and other colleagues will attest — but as I write this, in jeans and an Oxford shirt, I accept we have entered a new era of work casual.

Companies

In a quieter week for company results, pandemic “winner” Zoom Video Communications stands out, not for its size but its role as a potential indicator of the future of work.

The San Francisco-based start-up was the darling stock of lockdown. The question is what will happen to the service once employers no longer have to conduct meetings from their children’s bedroom desk.

Zoom has reacted to changing events by installing videoconferencing suites, “Zoom Rooms”, in offices. Last month it acquired Five9 to gain a foothold in the $24bn market for cloud-based call centre services — you can read the view of the FT’s Lex on this deal here.

Turnround specialist Melrose reports half-year results, which might provide some insight into the global semiconductor shortage in the car sector. Its biggest division is automotive.

The other issue for Melrose is its aviation businesses, which rely heavily on commercial air travel.

Economic data

There is a flood of economic data from the eurozone this week: inflation data on Tuesday, unemployment figures on Wednesday and finishing with retail sales on Friday.

The British interest in the value of their property will be fed by data on how house prices have moved after the withdrawal of the stamp duty holiday.

It is also worth highlighting monthly spending data published by the Bank of England this week, which should show if consumers have continued to accumulate savings or decided to splash cash squirrelled away during the pandemic lockdowns.

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

  • Eurozone, Consumer confidence data

  • Germany, Federal Statistical Office preliminary consumer price index

  • Japan, Monthly retail sales numbers

  • RESULTS: Bank of China H1, Zoom Video Communications Q2

Tuesday

  • Canada, Monthly GDP figures

  • EU, Eurostat flash eurozone inflation figures

  • France, Italy: Q2 GDP growth-rate figures

  • Germany, Federal Institute for Employment monthly labour market figures

  • India, Monthly GDP figures

  • Japan, Monthly employment rate; industrial production figures

  • UK, Bank of England monthly mortgage lending and consumer credit figures

  • UK, British Retail Consortium monthly economic briefing

  • UK, Debt Management Office details plans for selling government bonds, including first green gilts sales

  • US, Conference Board consumer confidence figures

  • US, Federal Housing Finance Agency house price indices

  • RESULTS: Bunzl H1, Norwegian Air Q2, Old Mutual H1

Wednesday

  • Brazil, Monthly GDP figures

  • Canada, China, Italy, Eurozone, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US: IHS Markit/Cips manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index announcements

  • EU, Eurostat unemployment figures

  • Germany, Federal Statistical Office retail trade figures

  • Italy, Istat unemployment figures

  • UK, Nationwide house price data

  • US, Construction spending figures

  • US, Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index

  • RESULTS: Melrose Industries H1, Pernod Ricard FY

Thursday

  • EU, Eurostat industrial production figures

  • UK, Nationwide monthly housing index

  • US, Census Bureau motor vehicle sales figures

  • RESULTS: Barratt Developments FY, Melrose Industries H1, Truworths International FY

Friday

  • EU, Eurostat retail trade figures

  • China, Eurozone, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, UK, US: IHS/Markit services sector PMI

  • Turkey, CPI data

  • UK, Bank of England official holdings of international reserves

  • UK, Quarterly review of the FTSE UK Index series

  • US, Average weekly earnings

  • US, Monthly unemployment figures

  • US, Non-farm payrolls, monthly change

World events

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

Monday

  • Germany, European Central Bank holds annual research conference online

  • UK, August Bank Holiday, public holiday throughout the UK, except Scotland.

  • UK, Latest changes to UK Covid travel restrictions come into place. Canada and Denmark are among seven countries moving to the green list. Thailand and Montenegro join the red list.

  • US, Day one of the US Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York

  • US, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky meets Biden at the White House

Tuesday

  • Afghanistan, Deadline for US withdrawal

  • UK, Scottish Parliament returns from summer recess

  • UK, 24th anniversary of death of Diana, Princess of Wales

Wednesday

  • Austria, 20th Opec and non-Opec ministerial meeting takes place

  • Italy, Venice International Film Festival begins

  • Russia, Population census starts

  • UK, Deadline for telecoms companies to stop installing Huawei equipment in British 5G networks

  • UK, Israel: Most schools return from summer break

  • UK, Partridge-shooting season begins

Thursday

  • China International Fair for Trade in Services opens in Beijing

  • UK, Voting opens for Green party leadership election

Friday

  • China Fashion Week opens in Beijing

  • Germany, Berlin International Beer Festival begins

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