Live news: Clean energy group ITM Power warns on profits for the third time in eight months

Are you ready for Blue Monday, the day that falls earlier this year in what was calculated in 2005 by Cliff Arnall, a former psychologist at Cardiff University, to be the most depressing 24 hours in the calendar?

Arnall’s damning conclusion about the third Monday in the first month (which he has since tried to contest) was based on an analysis of data such as consumer surveys, divorce filings and weather reports. The main conclusion many of us draw from this analysis is that not all academic research is useful to society.

If you’re a world leader or senior executive, at least you have the World Economic Forum in Davos to distract you from your January gloom. The FT Live team will also be in the Swiss resort town, hosting a range of in-person and digital events in which leaders from policy, business and finance will share insights into the big issues being discussed. You can view events and register for free here.

For the rest of us, we’ll have to live with grim economic news going into 2023 and hope that things can only get better.

If you’re in the UK, the dominant reality is mass strike action. It may not be close to having a second “winter of discontent” yet, at least according to my colleague Jonathan Guthrie, but another strike vote among ambulance workers is due this week, while the University and College Union 18 Will announce a new strike wave. Days of the Week covered 150 British universities in February and March after its members voted last week to reject its latest pay proposal.

Northern Ireland protocol rears its head again with Thursday’s deadline for the restoration of power sharing at Stormont. Don’t expect it to make you feel better about life or cross-border politics.

Abortion rights activists march from Washington Square Park to Bryant Park in New York last June

Abortion rights activists march from Washington Square Park to Bryant Park in New York last June © Alex Kent/AFP/Getty Images

Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the US Supreme Court that ensured Americans’ constitutional right to abortion. It’s certainly a very lively debate that – in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision to strike down the 1973 decision – has spilled over into the boardroom as well. Anti-abortion campaigners will march on Washington on Friday, drawing further comment on a fundamental American political fault line.

The week will end with another man-made day, this time one based on astronomy: the Lunar New Year celebration. This year the mass movement of people to visit families and friends on this occasion will take place under the shadow of rising Covid levels in China. Concerns are high about the impact on the spread of the disease.

Some more to look forward to is an evening with FT columnist Martin Wolf. Join Martin and other thought leaders online for a subscriber-exclusive event on 31 January debating the big changes needed in this time of great global uncertainty. The discussion coincides with the publication of Martin’s new book, crisis of democratic capitalism, Register for free here.

economic data

A Tesco cashierless store in High Holborn, London

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy has warned UK inflation could rise further © Luke McGregor/Bloomberg

It will be a busy round of data from China, the UK and the US this week. The European Central Bank will publish the minutes of its December meeting on Thursday and various central bankers will discuss regional and global economics in Davos.

The UK inflation rate will be updated on Wednesday. The outlook is not good, especially after recent comments from Hu Pill, chief economist of the Bank of England. Ken Murphy, chief executive of the UK’s largest food retailer Tesco, even warned that UK inflation could rise further. Last month’s release showed that the cost of living, as defined by the consumer price index, was up 10.7 percent in November, up from 11.1 percent in October.

companies

We’re in the first earnings season of 2023 and it’s a smorgasbord of companies, especially from Europe and (when Martin Luther King Day returns to Wall Street from break) the US.

Online food ordering services Just Eat Takeaway and Deliveroo will update investors on their festive sales on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. There is pressure on both to deliver better profits. The lockdown hasn’t ended well for the food ordering app as customers have opted to return to restaurants.

The question now is whether the recession will help these companies – as more people get takeaway rather than eat out – or hit them harder as customers reluctantly return to their own kitchens. Efforts to accelerate sales of groceries through partnerships with supermarkets and convenience apps like Getir could also give Deliveroo and Jet a slice of the home cooking market.

The past year was one to forget for Ocado Retail. The online supermarket, jointly owned by Ocado – which reported the numbers on Tuesday – and Marks & Spencer, parted company with chief executive Melanie Smith and warned several times over profits; Its sales are expected to fall for the first time in its history.

A woman walks through unclaimed bags at Southwest Airlines baggage claim in Salt Lake City

Public attention focuses on technical glitches at low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines © Rick Bomer / AP

In its last update in September, Ocado said it expected strong subscriber growth and sales growth of about 5 percent in the fourth quarter. It would be similar to increases posted by Tesco and J Sainsbury’s last week, after Covid-19 disrupted British shoppers’ time for the first Christmas in two years.

US airlines are reporting fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as public attention focuses on technical glitches at low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines and the country’s top aviation regulator that caused the high-profile meltdown. But the news is still likely to be good for most airlines, as profits from commercial air travel increase (despite post-Covid interest in private jets).

United Airlines will report on Wednesday. Scott Kirby, chief executive officer for the US Federal Aviation Administration, is expected to have some sharp words, which grounded planes for two hours on Wednesday when a damaged database file caused a critical safety system failure. He said during the summer that the agency needed more air traffic controllers.

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