Brexit after vote, oil results
The FT looks at some of the big stories of the coming week, including what happens next in the UK debate on Brexit, oil group results, data on German economic strength and the future for Angela Merkel as leader of the Christian Democrats.
Produced by Josh de la Mare. Edited by Petros Gioumpasis. Filmed by Nicola Stansfield and Rod Fitzgerald.
JOSH DE LA MARE: Hello and welcome to The Week Ahead from the Financial Times in London. Here's some of the big stories we'll be watching this week. The Brexit Debate continues in the UK parliament, results from major oil groups are likely to show some recovery, and Angela Merkel looks to remain leader of the Christian Democrats as the German economy continues to show strength.
First, opposition MPs in the UK will renew the efforts to tie Prime Minister Theresa May's hands over Brexit as the Article 50 Bill reaches the committee stage.
The Scottish National Party wants the government to go back to the negotiating table with other EU countries if Parliament rejects the terms of its Brexit deal.
Stephen Gethins, an SNP spokesman, laid out the party's stance in last week's debate.
Mr. Speaker, I urge members to vote for our amendment. Otherwise, this is a backwards and damaging step and it is an act of constitutional and economic sabotage.
JOSH DE LA MARE: Attempts to amend the bill have mostly fallen flat. Last week, most Conservative and Labour MPs voted in favour of triggering Article 50, the EU's formal exit clause. However, the bill must also be voted on in the Lords, where the government doesn't have the majority. The government's hoping for final parliamentary approval around March 7th, allowing it to notify other EU countries of its intention to leave the block.
And while investors continue to watch political developments nervously, they'll be hoping for more signs of stability and recovery in the oil industry when two of Europe's biggest energy groups reveal fourth quarter results.
BP's profits are expected to double in line with the recovery in crude oil prices from the 12 year lows a year ago. Numbers from Total on Thursday a likely to look more subdued because the French group has been more resilient than its peers through the downturn. The FT's Energy Editor Andrew Ward has more.
ANDREW WARD: This fourth quarter covers a period of time when oil prices really firmed up. They came back above $50 and they've settled there now for a couple of months in the mid 50s, so that's bringing a lot more confidence back to the industry. It's easing some of the pressure on the balance sheet that had been driving up debt and raising questions over the sustainability of these very big oil industry dividends.
Some of those fears have abated. The question now is whether we see that translating into enough confidence to resume investment in new projects, to look at how they're going to replenish reserves. And I think they're still going to be cautious.
They're still focused on keeping a lid on costs and they're aware that with resurgent shale, gas, and oil supply in the US, that there's a lid on prices. Prices are not going back towards the $100 a barrel level of a couple of years ago, so these guys are focused on keeping their dividends covered and keeping a control of cost.
JOSH DE LA MARE: A burst of deal making by BP and Total over recent weeks has encapsulated the sense of returning confidence. The pair's spent a combined $6 billion on assets in Brazil, West Africa, Abu Dhabi, and the US.
And finally, as global political uncertainty grows, we'll see how industrial production is doing in Germany, the eurozone's economic engine. Germany thrives on trade, with its manufacturers responsible for most exports. But this success is under threat from US President Donald Trump's push for protectionism. Claire Jones in Frankfurt has more details on what to expect from the industrial production figures.
CLAIRE JONES: They're likely to show that German manufacturers are still doing rather well. It seems that trade is holding up here. They're not likely to be as good as the figures for November, but they're still likely to be pretty decent. It seems that the climate of global uncertainty, the signs of political unrest that we're seeing, they're not really affecting the German economy yet, although they could do later on in the year.
JOSH DE LA MARE: The economic data is being published as Angela Merkel's conservative block is set to formally endorse the German Chancellor as its candidate in the September election. This comes after weeks of arguments between Ms. Merkel's Christian Democrats and its partner party the Christian Socialists who said that the Chancellor has welcomed too many refugees into Germany, and have called for an annual quota. Ms. Merkel has so far successfully rejected a quota as being unworkable.
Meanwhile, Ms. Merkel is due to fly to Warsaw on Tuesday to meet leaders of the ruling centre-right Law and Justice Party. The Chancellor's likely to be restrained in her public comments about the Polish government's recent assaults on the courts and the media, condemned as authoritarian by critics, but these concerns may be discussed in private.
And that's what the week ahead looks like from the Financial Times in London. See you again next time.