Israelis return to polls, Super Tuesday, Greggs results
The FT's Daniel Garrahan looks at the top stories likely to be making the news this week, including Israel's third election in a year, US Democrats gearing up for Super Tuesday, latest jobs data from America, and results from high-street food retailer Greggs
Presented by Daniel Garrahan. Edited by Anastasia McCloughlin. Written by Daniel Garrahan, Simon Greaves, Mamta Badkar, Alice Hancock
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Here are just some of the stories the Financial Times is watching in the week ahead. Israel goes to the polls, again. It's Super Tuesday in the US Democratic presidential primary. There's jobs data out of the US. And in the UK, Greggs reports full-quarter results.
First, Israel, which goes to the polls on Monday. It's the country's third general election since April last year. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party polled most of the votes back then, but he was unable to form a majority coalition. Then in September, the centrist Blue and White party, led by former general Benny Gantz, won most votes. But neither he nor Mr Netanyahu were able to form a coalition.
In November, Mr Netanyahu was indicted while in office for fraud, bribery, and breach of trust and now faces trial. Indications are that Likud and Blue and White are level pegging, but neither has a clear way forward to assemble a coalition. This could result in yet another election, and there is growing concern about Israel's ability to govern itself and its image overseas.
Next, to the US, where voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday, casting ballots in the Democratic presidential primary. It's likely to be a make-or-break moment for the remaining candidates in the race. It will either offer further momentum to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the self-declared democratic socialist, or it could fracture the party further.
Several candidates are still attempting to position themselves as the moderate alternative to the Vermont senator. Among them is Michael Bloomberg, The billionaire former New York mayor will be on the ballot for the first time on Super Tuesday. Mr Bloomberg has poured more than $400m into his eleventh-hour campaign, which is something that Mr Sanders criticised last week.
I do not believe in oligarchy where billionaires are buying elections.
In the last couple of weeks Donald Trump has been out there with his billionaire friends, gets $150,000 a person for the Republican party.
You've got Michael Bloomberg worth $60bn.
Bloomberg has every right in the world to run for president. He has no right to buy the presidency.
Staying in the US, economists expect hiring to have cooled in February, ahead of the non-farm payroll report on Friday. The US economy is expected to have created 190,000 jobs. That's down from 225,000 in January. Average earnings are expected to be up 3 per cent year on year. That's modestly lower than the 3.1 per cent earlier in the year. The data come as markets have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with companies around the world warning their supply chains and bottom lines could be affected.
The Trump administration has put the strength of the US economy at the centre of his re-election campaign. And Donald Trump has blamed the press, accusing media companies of doing everything possible to make the coronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets.
The Federal Reserve has thus far signalled no change to interest rates this year, despite the recent turmoil in global markets as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. But markets are increasingly betting on a rate cut. Investors will closely watch Friday's jobs data.
And finally, Greggs upgraded profit forecasts five times last year. That was in part thanks to the runaway success of its vegan sausage roll. The question when it reports its full-year results this week will be if it can sustain the upward trajectory as costs, such as the national living wage and pork prices, rise and competition for lunchtime spend from supermarkets increases.
Eyes will also be on the company to see if it can continue to come up with innovative products. This year, it released a vegan steak bake to high acclaim on Twitter, and it recently announced the arrival of vegan-friendly hot-cross buns, made with dairy-free butter.
Greggs is pretty much a business transformation case study. It's gone from being an 80-year-old retailer of hefty buns and cakes based in the north of England to a hot shot food-on-the-go retailer, with shares up 80 per cent since the beginning of last year. Investors this week, when it reports its full-year results, will probably be most interested to hear about its exclusive deal with the delivery aggregator Just Eat, that was recently taken over by Takeaway.com.
The company is also looking at using its kitchens after hours as so-called dark kitchens, which will be used exclusively for delivery to send pastries out to customers, in a bid to maximise its potential use of its stores even when they're closed.
And that's what the week ahead looks like, from the Financial Times in London.