Trump to decide on Iran deal, UK rate decision
The FT's Vanessa Kortekaas highlights the key stories to watch for, including US President Donald Trump deciding on whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a UK interest rate decision and economic data out of Germany.
Written by: Vanessa Kortekaas, Katrina Manson, Chris Giles, Claire Jones and Simon Greaves. Filmed by: Nicola Stansfield and Rod Fitzgerald. Images by Getty.
Hello, and welcome to The Week Ahead from the Financial Times in London. Here are some of the big stories we'll be watching in the coming days.
Donald Trump is set to decide on whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. We'll find out if UK interest rates are on the rise, and we'll be watching a raft of corporate and economic data coming out of Germany.
Let's start in the US, where all eyes are on President Donald Trump. The countdown is on to his self-imposed deadline of Saturday, May 12th. That's when Mr Trump said he'll decide whether or not to leave the landmark nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement was a crowning foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration, and essentially restricted Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for limited sanctions relief. But Mr Trump has declared it the worst deal ever and consistently threatened to leave it.
European signatories to the deal, including Britain, France, Germany, and the EU have been racing to save the accord, offering Mr Trump a harder line in the hope that they can persuade him to stay. Here's Katrina Manson, our US foreign policy and defence correspondent with more.
In typical Trump fashion, we are down to the wire on this one. With only a week to go, European negotiating teams are still on standby in case they're called for final last minute, face-to-face negotiations to try and hammer out what is known as the so-called supplementary deal that might conciliate Mr Trump on his concerns about the nuclear deal itself, but also come up with a separate set of agreements about everything else he's worried about outside the deal, Iran's so-called malign regional activities.
But it's worth bearing in mind that Mr Trump hasn't actually taken a decision yet, and senior officials say they are going to present the final, hardest, most accommodating version that they've been able to wring out of the Europeans to Mr Trump in coming days and see what he says then.
Now, in the UK, the Bank of England's monetary policy committee is set for a crunch meeting to decide whether or not to raise interest rates. It is expected to leave UK interest rates on hold at 0.5%, but just two weeks ago there appeared to be every reason to expect the NPC to raise rates to 0.75%. Financial markets even put a probability of an increase at up to 90%.
So what's changed? Well, after some increasingly hawkish noises coming from the bank in March and early April, the governor, Mark Carney, arranged an interview to say he was conscious there were other meetings over the course of the year when the committee could increase rates. He said the markets had ignored weaker data, ranging from lower than expected wage growth to a faster fall in inflation and weak retail sales. Poor gross domestic product figures have also been published since then. Here's Chris Giles on how all of this and Brexit is affecting the bank's decision.
The Bank of England thinks that Brexit is the biggest uncertainty for the UK economy at the moment, with the data being pretty disappointing in recent weeks. It would say that the government really needs to create some more certainty for business in the UK so that they can get out and invest, and then the bank could think about raising interest rates. So they're trying to pass this difficult issue back to the government, saying, you created the uncertainty of Brexit, you decide what sort of relationship you want with the European Union after 2019, and then we can see if the economy is going to grow faster, and then we'll think about interest rates.
And finally, we'll get a raft of corporate and economic data out of Germany this week. On Wednesday, Europe's largest conglomerate, Siemens, is due to report second quarter earnings that are expected to show flat revenue at just over 20 billion euros compared with a year ago. We'll also get data on the German economy, the powerhouse of the eurozone. That data will be closely watched for what they say about the possibility of a dip in the single currency area's economic fortunes this year.
And on Tuesday, the country's federal Statistics Office will publish figures for exports and production in March. Those should tell us how much weaker growth was the result of a slowdown in trade in one of the world's leading exporters. Claire Jones in Frankfurt has more.
The eurozone economy performed brilliantly last year. In the final quarter, growth was 0.7%. Now it hasn't begun this year in quite as strong a fashion. Figures out last week showed that growth for the first quarter of 2018 was 0.4%. That's quite a dramatic slowdown. We don't know yet if it will prove more durable, or if it's just a temporary setback. But what we do suspect is that it has something to do with poorer figures for trade. Now, we'll get more of a sense of whether or not that was, in fact, the case this week when we get data for German industrial production and for German exports.
And that's what the week ahead looks like from the Financial Times in London. See you again next time.