Theresa May is considering a fourth attempt to put her EU withdrawal agreement back to the House of Commons this week as pro-EU MPs seek to coalesce around alternative ways forward, after the UK prime minister saw her plan voted down for the third time last Friday.
Mrs May is now hoping to persuade the remaining Conservative rebel MPs that if they do not fall into line — in a vote that could come as early as Tuesday — then Downing Street will be forced into an even softer Brexit.
The EU has postponed the UK’s exit until April 12 to allow Britain try to resolve the impasse over her deal, which MPs had previously rejected by 230 votes in January and by 149 votes last month.
In a bid to test support for rival plans, backbench MPs will hold a round of “indicative votes” on Monday.
MPs last Wednesday rejected all eight alternative options in an attempt to hold such votes. But the rival plans that won the most backing were a customs union with the EU and a second referendum on any deal. Both are backed by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.
US-China trade talks
US-China trade talks continue this week when Beijing’s top trade negotiator, Liu He, travels to Washington for more trade discussions on Wednesday. The world’s two biggest economies wrapped up a lightning round of trade talks in Beijing on Friday, with the White House saying afterwards that the two parties “continued to make progress”.
The timetable for concluding the trade war has slipped over recent months — US president Donald Trump has suspended tariff increases — originally due to take effect on March 1 — on Chinese imports in the hope that the two sides can reach a deal.
Larry Kudlow, Mr Trump’s top economic adviser, has said the trade talks could stretch for “months”, while Chinese officials have said they are still hoping for an agreement by the end of April, but are prepared for negotiations to continue into May or June.
US jobs report
The US Labor Department on Friday releases its closely watched employment report, with hiring widely expected to have rebounded in March after nearly grinding to a halt the previous month.
The interruption to the strong run of employment growth followed a blockbuster gain in January of more than 300,000 jobs. Many argued at the time that investors should ignore the headline figure as it did not reflect the underlying trend in job growth and because wages reached a cyclical high of 3.4 per cent.
This week’s jobs figures come after the Federal Reserve moved to ditch rate rises this year and investors were likely to pay close attention to average hourly earnings figures.
Juncker visits Italy
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will on Monday travel to Rome to meet Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte at a tricky time for relations between the eurozone’s third-largest economy and Brussels. The OECD releases its Economic Survey of Italy the same day.
Bolsonaro visits Israel
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro begins a three-day visit to Israel on Monday, a week before the country holds elections. Mr Bolsonaro has pledged to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem, a measure likely to boost Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s standing in the polls. Military officers in Mr Bolsonaro’s cabinet oppose the move, as does Brazil’s powerful beef lobby, which fears loss of key sales in Arab markets.
The long-awaited trial involving Najib Razak, former Malaysian prime minister and founder of scandal-ridden 1MDB, is set to begin in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday after being delayed following a last-minute move by Mr Najib’s lawyers in February. Mr Najib has pleaded not guilty to 42 charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power linked to the multibillion-dollar embezzlement scandal engulfing 1MDB.
It’s another thin week for company reports, but in the US Walgreens Boots Alliance, the largest drugstore chain in the country, is expected to post a drop in earnings on Tuesday due to falling generic drug prices, while wine and beers sales are expected to be down at Constellation Brands when it reports on Thursday.
In the UK, vehicle breakdown group AA has forecast profits will come in at the top half of expectations when it reports on Tuesday, helped by a rise in customer spending and having re-won key contracts. Over-50s travel agent and insurance group Saga reports on Thursday against a backdrop of fears in the insurance industry that pricing has failed to keep pace with claims inflation.
Japan’s quarterly Tankan survey is out this week. Analysts predict that, despite a wane in business optimism, the survey will reflect continued economic expansion.. Analysts predict that, despite a wane in business optimism, the survey will reflect continued economic expansion.
Retail sales figures for the US and eurozone are also out this week. The UK releases construction, manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ indices this week, with PMIs also due in China and the US.
The minutes of the ECB‘s March meeting are out on Thursday.
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