ECB rate meeting, easyJet results
Daniel Garrahan previews stories the FT is watching in the week ahead, including the European Central Bank's policy and interest rate-setting meeting in Frankfurt, easyJet's first-quarter results and a total lunar eclipse.
Written by Claire Jones, Josh Spero and Clive Cookson. Filmed by Nicola Stansfield. Produced by Daniel Garrahan
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Here are just some of the stories that the Financial Times will be watching in the week ahead. The European Central Bank will hold a policy and interest rate meeting in Frankfurt. The budget airline easyJet reports first-quarter results. And the full moon will turn from white to a pale orange red in a total lunar eclipse.
First to Frankfurt, where the European Central Bank's monetary policymakers meet on Thursday. There are signs that growth in the eurozone is faltering. Growth fell to its lowest level in four years in the third quarter. While policymakers thought that there would be a strong rebound in the fourth quarter, that no longer looks likely. The slowdown in China and political uncertainty is clouding the economic outlook. And economic weakness is sure to affect the ECB's thinking when it comes to interest rates.
When the European Central Bank's monetary policymakers last met in mid-December there were plenty of causes for concern as regards the global economic outlook. Since mid-December, few of those concerns have gone away. There is still an environment where there's an immense amount of political uncertainty. And we are starting to see a lot of concern that the global economic expansion is past its peak and growth will be slower than it has been in recent years in 2019.
Now we've already seen... last week, Mario Draghi admitted that the economic data had been weaker than expected and that the weakness in the economy, which at first they put down to temporary factors, was proving more prolonged than they'd hoped. How will that affect the strategy for 2019? It's probably too early to tell on Thursday exactly what will happen. But don't expect interest rate rises anytime soon, given that we are seeing growth falter somewhat.
Now to easyJet, which reports first-quarter r results on Tuesday. The budget airline previously guided that revenue per seat will fall by low to mid single digits in the first half of 2018-19. This is largely thanks to one-off benefits from 2018. Investors will be watching to see if its investment in Germany, when it took over some of the collapsed Air Berlin's operations, is bearing fruit yet.
Chief executive Johan Lundgren will face questions about Brexit. EU rules mean more than half of the airline's investors must be from the bloc to keep its flying rights. EasyJet has previously said it was at 47 per cent. So any change will be worth noting.
This week investors are going to be looking for some very particular things from easyJet. They'll be hoping to see the Air Berlin acquisition - when Air Berlin went bankrupt, easyJet swooped in and took a good number of its slots in Germany - whether that acquisition is bearing fruit yet or whether it is still a massive cost. They're also going to be interested in capacity. A lot of airlines, including easyJet, have started to trim their capacity. Because the more seats you have, the less you can obviously charge.
So they've been trimming their capacity to support their prices. And that will be important throughout the rest of this year. Obviously, fuel has gone down, as well. And that will be a benefit that will have come through and contradicted easyJet's negative, pessimistic, or pragmatic predictions about whether they're going to be able to report a revenue increase or decrease per seat.
And finally, people living anywhere in North or South America, or on the western fringe of Europe, will see the full moon turn from a glistening white to a pale orange- on Sunday as the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon. The sunlight that reaches the Moon during a total eclipse like this has passed through the Earth's atmosphere and been refracted back onto the lunar surface. This gives it a characteristic colour romantically known as a blood moon. The event will begin at 3:33 AM GMT or local equivalent time. The full eclipse will last just over an hour.
Although astronomers tamely just say a total eclipse of the Moon, it's known as a blood moon not only for its colour, but also because it's become associated with various rather apocalyptic biblical prophecies about blood running. Indeed, it's become known as a super blood wolf moon. It's a super moon because the moon at the moment is a bit closer than usual to the Earth. So it looks bigger. And it's a wolf moon, because according to Native American tradition, the first full moon after the winter solstice is when the hungry wolves would howl outside their settlements.
And that's what the week ahead looks like from the Financial Times in London.