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Direct news: The clean energy group ITM Power warns of a profit for the third time in eight months




Are you ready for Blue Monday, the day that falls this year at the beginning of this week, calculated by former Cardiff University psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2005 to be the most depressing day in the calendar?

Arnall’s damning conclusion about the third Monday of the first month (which he has since tried to counter) was based on analysis of data, such as consumer surveys, divorce notices 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 are a world leader or top executive, at least you have the World Economic Forum in Davos to distract you from the January blues. The FT Live team will also be in the Swiss resort town, hosting several in-person and digital events where leaders in politics, business and finance will share insights into the big issues under discussion. You can view the events and register for free here.

For the rest of us, we̵[ads1]7;ll just have to live with the grim economic news going into 2023 and hope things can only get better.

If you are in the UK, the dominant reality is mass strike action. This may not be close to being another “winter of discontent”, at least according to my colleague Jonathan Guthrie, but a new strike vote among ambulance workers is coming this week while the University and College Union will announce a wave of 18 new strikes this day the week covering 150 UK universities in February and March after members last week voted to reject their latest pay offer.

The Northern Ireland Protocol will rear its head again with Thursday’s deadline for the restoration of power-sharing in Stormont. Don’t expect this to make you feel better about life or cross-border politics.

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

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

Sunday is the 50th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade ruling from the United States Supreme Court, which struck down Americans’ constitutional right to abortion. This is, of course, a very lively debate — even extending into the boardroom — in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision to strike down the 1973 decision. Anti-abortion campaigners will march in Washington on Friday, sparking further commentary on a fundamental American political fault line .

The week ends with another man-made day, this time based on astronomy: the Lunar New Year celebration. This year’s mass movement of people to visit families and friends celebrating the occasion will take place in the shadow of rising Covid levels in China. The concern about the impact on the spread of disease is great.

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

Economic data

A Tesco checkout-less store in High Holborn, London

Ken Murphy, chief executive of Tesco, has warned that inflation in the UK could rise further © Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

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

The UK inflation rate is updated on Wednesday. The outlook is not good, especially after recent comments from Bank of England chief economist Huw Pill. Ken Murphy, chief executive of Britain’s biggest grocer Tesco, even warned that inflation in the UK could rise further. Last month’s release showed that the cost of living as defined by the consumer price index was 10.7 per cent in November, down from 11.1 per cent in October.

Companies

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

Online food ordering services Just Eat Takeaway and Deliveroo will update investors on their festive sales on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Both are under pressure to deliver improved profitability. The end of the lockdown was not good for food ordering apps as customers chose to return to restaurants.

The question now is whether the recession will help these companies – as more people get takeout instead of eating out – or hit them further as customers reluctantly return to their own kitchens. Efforts to increase grocery sales, through partnerships with supermarkets and convenient apps such as Getir, could also give Deliveroo and JET a slice of home-cooked food.

Last year was a year to forget for Ocado Retail. The online supermarket, which is jointly owned by Ocado – which reports figures on Tuesday – and Marks and Spencer, parted company with chief executive Melanie Smith and warned about profits several times; sales are expected to fall for the first time in history.

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

Public attention has focused on technical failures at low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines © Rick Bowmer/AP

At its last update in September, Ocado said it expected strong growth in customers and sales growth of around 5 per cent for the fourth quarter. It will be similar to the growth posted last week by Tesco and J Sainsbury, after UK shoppers splashed out for the first Christmas in two years to avoid being disrupted by Covid-19.

US airlines report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as public attention focuses on technical failures at low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines and the nation’s top aviation regulator that caused high-profile shutdowns. But for most airlines, the news is likely to remain rosy, as (despite the increased interest in private jets post-Covid) demand for commercial flights drives profits.

United Airlines reports Wednesday. Expect CEO Scott Kirby to have some scathing words for the US Federal Aviation Administration, which grounded planes for two hours on Wednesday when a damaged database file caused a key safety system to fail. He said over the summer that the agency needs more air traffic controllers.



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