The only way is up for Bezos, inflation and Covid cases

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Hello and welcome to the working week.

Firstly, thank you to all those who contacted me at jonathan.moules@ft.com about the new Week Ahead format. Please keep messaging me with your thoughts — whether you would like more of something or less of something else. I would also love to hear about the important events of your working week.

Things are looking up this week, whether it is trips to space or — more worryingly — inflation and coronavirus infections.

Are we about to enter a new era of space travel? You wait decades for one billionaire entrepreneur to fly to the suborbital trajectory, then two come along together. Days after Richard Branson flew the flag for Virgin Galactic, promising even greater things in this FT interview, Jeff Bezos aims to match him this Tuesday — the anniversary of the first Moon landing — by climbing the full 100km to the edge of the atmosphere in his Blue Origin rocket. Could it do more damage than good for the environment back on earth? The question is whether it will encourage more space tourism, or just create a far quicker way to get from one side of Planet Earth to the other.

Then there is the other thing that is reaching new heights — daily cases of Covid-19 in the UK. The total may be soaring past 50,000, but that will not stop England celebrating “freedom day”, with the lifting of almost all lockdown restrictions. Sadly for them, UK prime minister Boris Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid will not be joining the party after the health secretary tested positive for Covid over the weekend. Johnson and Sunak, “pinged” by the NHS app due to contact with Javid, had initially planned to avoid self-isolation, but a remarkably swift U-turn came hot on the heels of a public backlash.

This will also be the week of the delayed launch: the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be held on Friday. It’s going to be a quiet affair trackside, but there should be some entertaining television viewing for those of us — and politicians — forced to self-isolate.

Companies

Telecoms is about looking to the future — at least that is what the advertising guys tell us. But for AT&T, having split off its media assets, investors are this week anticipating a glimpse of a return to past times when Ma Bell just provided phone services. Expect Thursday’s earnings call to put the focus on its wireless business after a couple of positive quarters.

Vodafone should have a good first-quarter trading update on Friday as it hopes to regain ground after the Covid-19 hit to last year’s numbers when the drop in roaming revenue and business activity weighed on the company.

When BHP announces its fiscal fourth-quarter production report on Tuesday the focus will be on the performance of its flagship Australian iron ore business and any clues about Jansen, a giant potash project in Canada it is developing.

Iron prices have surged over the past year, hitting a record high above $230 a tonne before pulling back. Tepid supply growth from major suppliers has been a factor in pushing up the price of the steelmaking ingredient. As such, production guidance for BHP’s 2022 fiscal year — which runs to June — will be scrutinised.

Economic data

There are a lot of economic indicators on the up, thanks in no small part to the vaccines rollout. Detail about how much the post-jab rebound is pushing up retail spending in the UK, manufacturing across Europe and inflation in Japan will become clearer when data are published this week.

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.

Monday

  • UK, Rightmove monthly house price index

  • EU, Eurostat construction output data

  • IBM (Q2)

Tuesday

  • Japan, monthly consumer price index

  • Germany, producer price figures

  • easyJet (Q3)

  • Wise (Q1 trading update)

  • UBS (Q2)

  • Philip Morris (Q2)

  • Netflix (Q2)

  • Anglo American (Q2 production report)

  • BHP Billiton (operational review)

  • Manpower Group (Q2)

  • Halliburton (Q2)

  • Rémy Cointreau (Q1)

  • Electrolux (Q2)

  • Volvo (Q2)

Wednesday

  • UK, Office for National Statistics publishes public sector finance data

  • ASML (Q2)

  • Qinetiq (Q1 trading update and AGM)

  • Bloomsbury Publishing (AGM)

  • Royal Mail (trading update and AGM)

  • United Airlines (Q2)

  • Verizon Communications (Q2)

  • Daimler (Q2)

  • Harley-Davidson (Q2)

  • Novartis (Q2)

  • Akzo Nobel (Q2)

  • Johnson & Johnson (Q2)

  • Coca-Cola (Q2)

  • SAP (Q2)

Thursday

  • UK, Quarterly crime statistics for England and Wales

  • EU, European Central Bank interest rate announcement

  • Centrica (H1)

  • Mulberry Group (H1)

  • Twitter (Q2)

  • Intel (Q2)

  • Unilever (Q2)

  • Snap (Q2)

  • AT&T (Q2)

  • SSE (Q1 trading statement and AGM)

  • Wickes (H1 trading update)

  • Union Pacific (Q2)

  • Workspace Group (Q1 statement and AGM)

  • Capital One Financial (Q2)

  • Blackstone Group (Q2)

  • ABB (Q2)

  • Hotel Chocolat (trading update)

  • Marsh McLennan (Q2)

  • Daily Mail and General Trust (Q3 trading update)

  • Roche (H1)

  • Volkswagen (AGM)

Friday

  • UK, monthly retail sales figures

  • UK, Cips/Markit Purchasing Managers index for manufacturing and services

  • Eurozone, Markit composite PMI for manufacturing and services

  • Canada, monthly retail trade figures

  • Vodafone (trading update)

  • United Utilities (AGM)

  • Premier Foods (Q1 trading update)

  • Honeywell (Q2)

  • Kimberly-Clark (Q2)

  • American Express (Q2)

  • Schlumberger (Q2)

  • Air Canada (Q2)

  • Skanska (H1)

World events

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

Monday

  • UK, coronavirus lockdown restrictions largely lifted in England. Scotland to move to the lowest level, zero, of its five-tier Covid lockdown system.

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Belgium, National Day celebrated

  • Switzerland, General Council of the World Trade Organization meets in Geneva

Thursday

  • UK, House of Commons rises for summer recess

  • Norway, 10th anniversary of the Oslo and Utoya terrorist attacks

Friday

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