Good morning. Today's Monday, Jan 23rd.
A far-right activist's actions put Sweden's NATO membership approval in jeopardy with the Swedish government backing unconditional freedom of speech as he burned a copy of the Quran while the Turkish government officials condemned the protest. Moreover, the West started voicing opinions on whether to boot Turkey from the defense organization in the event the West's long-standing ally were to deny Sweden and Finland membership. It remains to be seen what the coming days hold for the West's relations with Turkey.
- Today's playlist | Jazz Pop
– Atilla, with Özlem and Can
Year-to-date price changes. Prices at markets close.
• Global PMIs, US GDP, income and spending data, Eurozone consumer confidence, and UK PPI will be this week's highlights.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels; ECB President Lagarde to make a speech at the Deutsche Boerse annual reception; Eurozone consumer confidence; US Conference Board leading index.
German Foreign Minister Baerbock to address the Council of Europe in Strasbourg; Global manufacturing and services flash PMIs; Germany GfK consumer confidence.
Germany Ifo business climate; UK PPI; Australia, New Zealand CPI.
US Q4 GDP, new home sales, initial jobless claims, goods trade balance, US durable goods, wholesale inventories, retail inventories
US personal income/spending; Spain GDP; Japan Tokyo CPI
• German producer prices rose 21.6% year-on-year in December mainly due to lower energy prices, the Federal Statistics Office reported on Friday, at a slower rate from 28.2% in the month prior but slightly higher than analyst expectations of ease to 20.8%. Compared with the previous month, prices fell 0.4%, the third consecutive monthly decline but less than the consensus for a drop of 1.2%.
- Zoom in: The month-on-month decline in December was driven by a 1.0% dip in energy costs, due to easing prices for natural gas and mineral oil products. In November, energy prices had fallen by 9.6% compared with October.
• China’s decision to reopen its economy will increase inflation in Europe as they both compete for more energy, President Christine Lagarde of the European Central Bank said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
- Contrary perspectives: There has been extensive debate about whether Beijing’s decision to end its zero-Covid policy will bring more or less inflation. While some agree with President Lagarde, others note that because supply chains are being restored, the reopening might ease some of the inflationary pressures in Europe.
• Japan’s core consumer price inflation hit 4.0% year-on-year in December, doubling the central bank’s 2% target and hitting a fresh 41-year high, official data showed on Friday, adding to recent growing signs of mounting inflationary pressure. The increase in the core consumer price index, which excludes volatile fresh food but includes oil costs, matched a median market forecast and followed a 3.7% annual gain seen in November.
• Brazil and Argentina will announce this week that they are starting preparatory work on a common currency, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, in a move that could eventually create the world’s second-largest currency bloc. The plan, set to be discussed at a summit in Buenos Aires this week, will focus on how a new currency —which Brazil suggests calling the "Sur" (south)— could boost regional trade and reduce reliance on the US dollar.
• Deutsche Bank is considering slightly higher bonuses for its traders after the unit posted another successful year, Bloomberg reported. Meanwhile, the total handed out within the division advising companies on deals and issuing debt and equity, known as Origination & Advisory, might fall by as much as 40%, reflecting the strong divergence in performance between the two businesses.
• Shares in Intesa Sanpaolo fell by 2% after Bloomberg reported the Italian lender was cutting as much as €20 billion in risk-weighted assets to address supervisory remarks by the ECB about its inadequate risk models. Intesa sought to reassure investors over its ability to hit shareholder reward targets on Friday, stating that its core capital would land at around 13% at the end of 2022.
• Stellantis will pause production next week at its Atessa factory In Italy —the largest van-making plant in Europe with an annual capacity of more than 300,000 units— due to a shortage of components that use microchips, as well as other minor ones, unions said on Friday. The stoppage will affect most of the plant's 5,000 workers, FIM, UILM and Fismic unions said in a statement.
• ABB has agreed to sell its US-based power conversion business to Taiwan-based AcBel Polytech for $505 million, the Swedish-Swiss engineering and technology company said on Friday. AcBel said the deal —which is subject to approval from US and Taiwan authorities— is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023 and would help complete its products portfolio.
• Ericsson reported worse-than-expected Q4 core earnings on Friday, as sales of 5G equipment slowed due to lower demand amid fears of a global recession, sending the Swedish company's shares to their lowest since 2018. Net sales rose in Q4, but margins, net income, and core earnings fell; while gross margin fell to 41.4% from 43.2% in the previous quarter.
- A step back: Ericsson has already announced plans to cut costs by about €800 million by the end of 2023, reducing consultants, real estate, and employee headcount. Last week, the company said it would book a €200 million provision for an expected fine from US authorities for breach of a settlement reached in 2019.
• US power chip maker Wolfspeed is planning to build a factory in Germany for more than €2 billion, Handelsblatt reported on Saturday, with production set to begin in four years at the site in the southwest state of Saarland. The German auto supplier ZF will hold a minority stake, the business newspaper said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the project.
• Western allies pledged to supply Ukraine with more weapons, but no decision was made on delivering tanks to support the country against the Russian invasion, in a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Top US general Mark Milley also said it would be very hard for Ukraine to drive Russia's invading forces from the country this year.
- A step back: The main issue in advance of the meeting was whether Germany would agree to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, or allow other countries to do so. Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrat Party is traditionally skeptical of military involvements and wary of sudden moves that could cause Moscow to further escalate.
- Ukraine’s response: Germany’s indecision is a "huge disappointment for all Ukrainians," Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk said in a CNN interview. Melnyk expressed hope that Germany would weigh Ukraine’s concerns and could still decide to send the Leopard tanks.
- Meanwhile: Russia increased shelling in Ukraine’s eastern regions outside the main front line in the Donbas industrial area, officials from the Zaporizhzhia and Sumy regions said on Saturday. Russian attacks seek to overload Ukraine's defenses and deter Kyiv from retaking territory, officials and analysts say.
• Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday to mark 60 years of the landmark Elysee Treaty, which forms the basis for today’s European Union. Germany’s entire cabinet is in Paris for the meetings, and 300 lawmakers from both countries are coming together at the Sorbonne University for talks focusing on energy, economic policy, and defense, including the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on these fields.
- The quote: Speaking at the Sorbonne, Chancellor Scholz said the future of Europe rested on the "driving force" of Paris and Berlin. "The German-French engine is a machine for compromise — well oiled, but from time to time also loud and marked by hard work," he added.
• Turkey canceled next week’s visit by Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson after Rasmus Paladan, a far-right activist from Denmark, staged a protest outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm where he burned the Quran, Islam’s holy book. "Permitting this anti-Islam act, which targets Muslims and insults our sacred values, under the guise of freedom of expression is completely unacceptable," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
⚡ Lightning Round
- 80% of people in China have now been infected with Covid-19, Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Saturday, as millions travel for the Lunar New Year for the first time without domestic travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic.
- Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu fired Interior and Health Minister Aryeh Deri, a key cabinet ally. Israel’s Supreme Court decided last week Deri could not serve as a minister because of a conviction last year over tax offenses.
- Brazil’s President Lula da Silva fired army chief Gen. Arruda days after the leftist leader openly said that some army members allowed the Jan. 8 uprising in the capital by far-right protesters, who sought to overturn Lula’s election win.
• Google parent Alphabet is cutting about 12,000 jobs, following other tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta, who are downsizing after a hiring spree during the pandemic. Alphabet said in a staff memo that it faces "a different economic reality" and will focus on artificial intelligence. Google employees are seeking answers as some of the layoffs came for long-tenured and recently promoted people.
• Elon Musk said Twitter will add a "higher-priced subscription that allows zero adds." He added, "Ads are too frequent on Twitter and too big." Musk has sought revenue sources alternative to advertising since he bought the platform in October, as brands pull back from the site amid concern about its moderation policies.
- In other news: Musk said in a tweet that Twitter has about 2,300 active employees after CNBC reported that Twitter's full-time headcount has reduced to about 1,300 active, working employees, including fewer than 550 full-time engineers by title. "There are still hundreds of employees working on trust & safety," he added.
• A French court ordered Uber to pay about €17 million in damages and lost salaries to a group of drivers, who demanded to be treated like employees rather than self-employed. The court decided that the work relationship of the drivers should have been qualified as employment contracts, and Uber should have reimbursed them for professional expenses like the purchase of a car, fuel, and overtime.
• US federal prosecutors seized nearly $700 million (€643mn) in cash and assets connected to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. John Ray, who replaced Bankman-Fried as CEO to guide FTX’s restructuring, is trying to rescue funds that were lost by the crypto company’s depositors when the firm spiraled into bankruptcy in November.
🌐 Davos 2023: Key takeaways from the World Economic Forum
🫂 Elysee Treaty: 60 years of Franco-German friendship
🪖 Analysis: Why Germany is struggling to stomach the idea of sending tanks to Ukraine