Business is booming.

Easing of Covid travel rules and upbeat retail data should assuage new year blues


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Hello and welcome to the working week.

Brace yourselves. The coming seven days will be a struggle as the temperatures chill the bones, the post-festive period comedown continues and people grapple with new year’s resolutions that will test them to the limit.

Across the northern hemisphere, countries have been weighed down by the Omicron coronavirus variant and the Christmas holidays seem an almost distant memory. Diary items this week include inflation updates and details about how climate change has affected (negatively) the weather in the US.

Are there any reasons to be cheerful — apart, of course, from the resumption of The Week Ahead newsletter? Well, yes.

Covid-19 rules are being loosened for British travellers and Belgians needing to self-isolate. Also, pandemic data are being added to daily, increasing our knowledge of how to tackle Omicron and showing that its spread may have peaked in some places.

For English cricket fans, the final Test match in the Ashes series gets under way this week in Hobart, meaning that the daily stream of miserable scoreline news will soon be at an end. Australians cannot only enjoy the spectacle but they can look forward to the start of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne in seven days. And, subject to a court hearing on Monday to decide whether to proceed with the deportation of Novak Djokovic, they have the promise of a new men’s singles champion.

There is likely to be some positive news from corporate diaried items this week. Upbeat reports are expected from several leading retailers and Wall Street banks — see the Companies section below. And the Dutch can look forward to a government finally being installed, 10 months after the elections.

Things might not appear to be getting better generally, but there is always some cause for hope if you look hard enough — email me with your take to

Economic data

The economic data reports this week will begin with EU unemployment figures on Monday. Inflation will also be a news item (again) with monthly updates from China, the US, India, Japan and France.


How was your Christmas? This week we will discover how good it was for a clutch of retailers, mostly in the UK.

The process started with bullish updates last Thursday from Next — a British retailer that has been upgrading its outlook throughout the past 12 months — and popular bakery chain, Greggs. This week’s updates might be more mixed.

When Asos last updated the market, its chief executive departed and its shares fell almost a fifth. Investors will probably be relieved just to hear that things have not got any worse in “P1” — the company’s term for the all-important four months to the end of December. There will also be quarterly results this week from retailers, notably Fast Retailing, owner of Uniqlo, on Thursday.

Elsewhere, it is the start of the banking reporting season — and hopes are high after a recent rally in the sector in anticipation of higher interest rates and signs that demand for loans is picking up. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will kick off proceedings on Friday. Investors are watching out for updates on their outlooks for 2022.

Key economic and company reports

Here is a more complete list of what to expect in terms of company reports and economic data this week.


  • EU, eurozone unemployment rate

  • Results: Brunello Cucinelli FY


  • EU, industrial production figures

  • UK, British Retail Consortium-KPMG monthly retail sales monitor report

  • World Economic Forum publishes its Global Risks Report


  • China, India, Russia, US: monthly consumer price index (CPI) data

  • EU, India: monthly industrial production figures

  • Italy, retail sales figures

  • Just Eat Takeaway Q4 trading update

  • UK, 2020-based interim national population projections

  • US, Federal Reserve Beige Book published

  • Whitbread Q3 trading update


  • Asos trading statement

  • China, monthly trade data

  • Italy, industrial production figures

  • Japan, US: monthly producer price index data

  • Marks and Spencer Q3 trading update

  • Persimmon trading update

  • Tesco Q3 trading statement

  • UK, Recruitment & Employment Confederation and KPMG monthly jobs report

  • Results: Südzucker Q3, Fast Retailing Q1


  • EU, monthly international trade in goods figures

  • France, CPI data

  • Germany, full-year GDP figures

  • UK, monthly GDP estimate, industrial production data, trade figures and productivity data

  • US, industrial production and retail sales figures

  • Results: Citigroup Q4, JPMorgan Chase Q4, Wells Fargo Q4

World events

Finally, here is a rundown of other events and milestones this week.


  • Relaxing of Covid-19 rules comes into effect in Belgium. Fully vaccinated people will no longer have to self-isolate if they come into close contact with someone infected with coronavirus and the length of time for isolation is being cut from 10 to seven days. This follows a relaxation of rules for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK, who can now take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR test.

  • Belgium, the Nato-Ukraine Commission is to meet in Brussels

  • Netherlands, almost 10 months after elections, the new Dutch government is due to be installed

  • US, the Golden Globes awards for film and television are announced


  • Cuba, 20 years since first detainees arrived at Guantánamo Bay

  • UK, Hilary term for the High Court and Court of Appeal begins


  • The Military Committee, the highest military authority of Nato, meets in Chiefs of Defence session at Nato headquarters in Brussels. Separately, the Nato-Russia Council will meet to discuss the build-up of Russian soldiers along Ukraine’s border


  • Italy, tenth anniversary of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster that killed 32 people

  • US, space agency Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announce where 2021 ranks for global temperatures

  • UN is to publish its World Economic Situation and Prospects report for 2022


  • Australia, start of the fifth Test cricket match in the Ashes series in Hobart

  • New year celebrations for Orthodox Christians

  • Tunisia, anniversary of the overthrow of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 



  • Ireland, state ceremonial 100th anniversary event in Dublin Castle to mark the start of the formal handover of power to the Irish Free State

  • Netherlands, march in Amsterdam by protesters opposed to the government’s coronavirus response

  • Serbia holds a constitutional referendum on its judiciary

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