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

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

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

If you’re a global leader or senior executive, you at least 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, hosting several in-person and digital events where leaders from politics, business and finance will share their views on the big issues being debated. You can view the events and register for free here.

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

If you are in the UK, the prevailing reality is the mass strike. It may not be close to a second “winter of discontent” yet, at least according to my colleague Jonathan Guthrie, but another strike vote among paramedics is expected this week as the University and College Union announces a wave of new 18-day strikes this week covering 150 UK universities in February and March after its members voted last week to reject their latest wage offer.

Northern Ireland Protocol will return to action with Thursday’s deadline for power-sharing to be restored at Stormont. Don’t expect this to make you feel better about cross-border life or politics.

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

Sunday is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision that enshrined Americans’ constitutional right to abortion. This is of course a very lively debate – which extends into the boardroom – following last year’s Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 ruling. -abortion will march through Washington on Friday, prompting fresh commentary on a fundamental political fault line in the United States.

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

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

Economic data

A cashierless Tesco store in High Holborn, London

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

This will be a series of loaded data from China, the UK and the US this week. The European Central Bank will release the minutes of its December meeting on Thursday and various central bankers will discuss the regional and global economy in Davos.

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

Companies

We’re in the thick of the first earnings season of 2023 and it’s an assortment of companies, particularly from Europe and (when Wall Street returns from the Martin Luther King Day break) the United States.

Online food ordering services Just Eat Takeaway and Deliveroo will notify investors of their festive sales on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Both are under pressure to improve their profitability. The end of the lockdown has not been good for food ordering apps as customers have opted to return to restaurants.

The question now is whether the recession will help these businesses – as more people get takeout instead of dining out – or hit them harder as customers reluctantly return to their own kitchens. Efforts to boost grocery sales, through partnerships with supermarkets and convenience apps like Getir, could also give Deliveroo and JET a share of the home cooking market.

Last year was a year to forget for Ocado Retail. The online supermarket, jointly owned by Ocado – which releases figures on Tuesday – and Marks and Spencer, has parted ways with chief executive Melanie Smith and has repeatedly warned against profits; its sales are expected to fall for the first time in its history.

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

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

In its last update in September, Ocado said it expected strong customer growth and sales growth of around 5% for the fourth quarter. It would 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 undisturbed by Covid-19.

U.S. airlines report fourth-quarter and full-year results as public attention focuses on technical issues at low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines and the nation’s top aviation regulator that caused high profile collapses. But for most airlines, the news is still likely to be rosy, as (despite increased interest in private jets post-Covid) demand for commercial air travel is driving profits.

United Airlines will report on Wednesday. Expect Chief Executive Scott Kirby to have some sour words for the US Federal Aviation Administration, which grounded planes for two hours on Wednesday when a damaged database file caused a key security system. He said over the summer that the agency needed more air traffic controllers.

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