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UK party conference season begins while Spain wrestles with coalition plans

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Hello and welcome to the working week.

While most of us get back to the office, Westminster politicians are, as I write, fanning out across the country, pitching up for the circus that is British party conference season. These annual gatherings are significant this year because they are likely to be the last before the country goes to the polls for a general election.

The Liberal Democrats are already in Bournemouth. Their leader Ed Davey will give the closing speech on Tuesday, probably his best chance to grab any attention for his policies. Next Sunday the Conservatives arrive in Manchester for what is expected to be an emotive gathering, not least because ex-prime minister Liz Truss has promised to be there to give her critical take on the man who took over from her, Rishi Sunak. The PM will also face in an interesting reception in Manchester if the decision on the beleaguered High-Speed Rail 2 project, also due this week, is to scrap it beyond Birmingham. Read Stephen Bush’s excellent Inside Politics newsletter for insightful commentary.

In Spanish politics, opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo will get his chance to try to form a government after July’s inconclusive general election. Will Spanish parliamentarians at last agree on a coalition to rule the country? Probably not, but there will be a debate and a vote. Once it is confirmed that Feijóo does not have a parliamentary majority, the baton will pass to acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez, who will make his own bid in the weeks to come.

This week’s economic focus will be on growth, with quarterly GDP estimates from the US and the UK. Concerns are high after last week’s disappointing purchasing managers’ index figures raised concerns about recession in the UK and other leading European countries.

Line chart of Purchasing managers' index, below 50 = most businesses reporting a contraction showing Steeper downturn in service sector activity weighs on UK economy

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. That has certainly been the case for retailing behemoth H&M, which discloses third-quarter figures on Wednesday. Shares were hit earlier this month when the company published weaker than expected sales figures. H&M said then it had focused on profitability in the quarter so I guess investors want to see what that means. Retail is a theme (again) with results also due out from Asos, HSS Hire and Card Factory. Costco and Nike stand out in the US.

Finally, a couple of FT events for your diary. The FT’s Mining Summit is coming up on October 5-6. Discuss the future of critical minerals with chief executives from the world’s biggest miners including Anglo American, Vale and Newmont. Click here to attend in London or online. Also, the FT is holding its first FT Professional webinar this Thursday. Register here.

One more thing . . . 

This is a good week for the Nisga’a nation, one of the Indigenous groups who were the original inhabitants of Canada. A homecoming ceremony will be held on Friday in British Columbia to celebrate the return of a sacred totem pole, kept for almost a century in the National Museum of Scotland. It gets to the heart of the thorny debate (one that I personally feel conflicted over) about repatriation of national treasures. Read this FT Opinion piece to understand more.

Thank you for all you kind comments, including those about the Moules family’s summer rail adventure piece — we’re clearly not alone in enjoying long train journeys. Keep them coming to or if you are reading this in your inbox, hit reply.

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.


  • European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde speaks at the Econ Hearing before the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European parliament in Brussels

  • Germany: Ifo Business Climate survey


  • UK: Financial Policy Committee meeting, attended by Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey

  • US: Conference Board September Consumer Confidence Index

  • Results: Alliance Pharma H1, Asos trading update, Barr (AG) H1, Card Factory H1, Close Brothers H1, Costco Q4, Ferguson FY, PZ Cussons FY, Smiths Group FY


  • Alex Chriss becomes PayPal president and chief executive, succeeding Dan Schulman who remains on the board until the company’s next annual meeting of stockholders in May 2024

  • Germany: GfK Consumer Climate survey

  • US: monthly durable goods orders

  • Results: Groupe Beneteau H1, H&M Q3, Jefferies Q3, Micron Technology Q4, Old Mutual H1, PayChex Q1, Pendragon H1, Saga H1


  • EU: European Central Bank economic bulletin

  • Germany: September retail sales and consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate data

  • US: final Q2 GDP figures

  • Results: Accenture Q4, HSS Hire H1, Nike Q1


  • France: September consumer spending and CPI inflation rate data

  • Germany: unemployment rate change

  • UK: revised Q2 GDP figures

  • Results: Carnival Q3

World events

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


  • Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement

  • China: European Commission executive vice-president and commissioner for economy and trade Valdis Dombrovskis to meet Chinese vice-premier He Lifeng for the tenth EU-China High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing

  • France/Italy: Paris Fashion Week begins, as Milan Fashion Week concludes

  • UK: Crown Prosecution Service to announce whether it will seek a retrial on the counts on which the jury failed to reach a verdict in the case of nurse Lucy Letby, jailed in August for life for the killings of seven newborn babies


  • India: chief of military staff General Manoj Pande to hold a joint press briefing with US Army chief General James McConville at the Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference in New Delhi

  • South Korea: a military parade will be held to mark armed forces day



  • UK: 2023 Turner Prize exhibition opens at Towner Eastbourne gallery, the first time the event has been held in Sussex. The winner will be announced on December 5


  • Canada: a homecoming ceremony will be held for the return of a hand-carved totem pole from the National Museum of Scotland to the Nisga’a village of Laxgaltsʼap in British Columbia

  • UK: election of the new Lord Mayor for the City of London

  • US: Inauguration of Harvard University’s 30th president Claudine Gay in Boston


  • Maldives: second round of presidential elections between Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Mohamed Muizzu, following the first round on September 9 when neither candidate won more than half the vote

  • Slovakia: parliamentary elections


  • China: National Day

  • Italy: 44th Ryder Cup golf tournament between Europe and the US concludes

  • UK: the Conservative party annual conference begins, the first since Rishi Sunak succeeded Liz Truss as prime minister 12 months ago

  • US: former president Jimmy Carter turns 99

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