Busy week for May as time to talk Brexit arrives
Five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week
1. Time to talk
British Prime Minister Theresa May has much to talk about. On Monday, Britain begins what are bound to be tough negotiations on leaving the EU. They won’t be made any easier by the fact May is still discussing a potential agreement with the DUP, a small political party from Northern Ireland, to ensure she has a slim majority in parliament. Without an agreement with the DUP, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth cannot deliver her traditional speech to parliament outlining the government’s program, which was also scheduled for Monday but has now been set for Wednesday. How all this affects sterling and other UK assets will be a big focus for markets in the coming week.
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2. Eat or be eaten
Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of supermarket chain Whole Foods Market raises fascinating questions about the future of retail. Whole Foods should benefit from Amazon’s power to buy and sell goods at lower cost. Amazon acquires stores that help it satisfy consumers’ demands for the shortest possible time between ordering and delivery. The potential for disruption hammered the shares of competitor food distribution retail companies.
3. Taking the temperature
After a week in which worries about growth in several important economies came to the fore, the coming week’s monthly estimates of factory and service sector activity across the globe will be closely watched. One focus of concern after sub-par retail sales data in the United States and Britain was whether consumers, who have been the main drivers of many developed economies, are feeling the pinch. If that proves to be the case, it will soon show up in the purchasing management numbers.
4. Macron’s odyssey
The euro zone country that may most welcome a widely-expected victory for French President Emmanuel Macron’s party at parliamentary elections on Sunday, is Greece. Macron has proposed a long-term solution to Greece’s debt woes that would link the size of debt relief – tentatively agreed on by euro zone ministers this week – to economic growth. With a pro-European outlook, Macron and his ‘En Marche!’ party could bridge the gap between Athens and austerity-champions Germany to pen the final details of such debt relief. Not only does the IMF want these details to part with bailout cash, but the European Central Bank is also waiting for more clarity before it will add Greek debt to its stimulus scheme. For Greek debt investors, Macron’s mission may play an important role in pushing yields low enough for Athens’ hotly-tipped market return.
Tuesday’s annual refresh of MSCI’s global share indices will reveal whether, after years of missing out, the first batch of yuan-denominated Chinese stocks will join the US firm’s widely-tracked benchmarks. Other decisions are looming too, including if Argentina has done enough to get back in after almost a decade in exile as well as a possible demotion for Nigeria. The China call will generate all the headlines though and will be gauged as a baby step towards a fairer reflection of the importance of world’s second biggest economy in global markets.
(Reporting by Nigel Stephenson, John Geddie and Marc Jones)