Bank of Japan sets rates as Christmas nears

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Hello and welcome to the working week.

Are you in wind-down mode? Well, you’re not alone. It is the dominant theme this week as we approach the Christmas break. But fear not, there are plenty of items left in the hamper to keep you reading the Financial Times.

First, there are election results to digest, starting with Egypt. Sitting President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to be a shoo-in, largely, say the country’s opposition candidates, because of the problems they have had getting heard.

The potential for vote-rigging is the biggest concern for this week’s other presidential ballot, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country by area, whose citizens go to the polls on Wednesday. The incumbent, Félix Tshisekedi, has told the FT that the election will be “transparent and democratic”, but EU diplomats warn that they have been hampered in efforts to check that voting is fair.

In the UK, both the House of Commons and the Lords rise for their Christmas break on Tuesday, but it could be another difficult week for Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government. Home secretary James Cleverly will that day be grilled by peers on his Rwanda asylum deal. Tuesday is also the deadline for the recall petition for Peter Bone, MP for Wellingborough and ex-deputy Commons leader, who was suspended after a parliamentary watchdog found he had bullied an employee and committed indecent exposure, potentially triggering another difficult by-election contest for the Tories.

Next week’s economic news calendar definitely has an end of term feel, but there is one more Bank of Japan policy meeting to round out the year — with the BoJ pushing back quite heavily on “policy tweak” talk ahead of the meeting. It is expected to hold the call rate at -0.1 per cent and leave the 10-year yield target at 0 per cent.

Talking of central bankers, there will be plenty walking the halls at the European Central Bank Biennial Conference on Fiscal Policy and EMU Governance in Frankfurt. Elsewhere, we have inflation updates from the UK and Canada, while the US will be putting out personal income, consumer confidence and durable goods orders data.

One more thing . . . 

Wednesday is a reminder of more optimistic times with the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Wall opening for the first time to West Berliners. They were allowed one-day visits to see relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays. The Wall came down on November 9 1989.

This weekend begins a season of hope for many, with Christmas followed by the 12 days leading up to Epiphany in the western Christian calendar. I am taking a break to celebrate the season with family and friends, hopefully catching the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge. But I will be back with a special Year Ahead newsletter on December 31. A very happy Christmas to you all.

What are your priorities for the week ahead? Drop me a line at 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.


  • Germany: Ifo Business Climate survey

  • US: NAHB Housing Market Index

  • Results: Hollywood Bowl FY


  • Olivier Blanchard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics gives the keynote speech at the European Central Bank Biennial Conference on Fiscal Policy and EMU Governance in Frankfurt. The event also includes a policy panel on the new policy challenges and reforms needs for the economic and monetary union

  • EU: consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate data

  • Japan: Bank of Japan announces rate-setting meeting decision

  • UK: CBI Industrial Trends Survey

  • Results: Accenture Q1, De La Rue HY, FedEx Q2, Hipgnosis Songs Fund HY


  • Toshiba is expected to delist from the Tokyo Stock Exchange today, ending the Japanese electronics company’s 74 years as a listed business

  • China: loan prime rate announcement

  • Germany: GfK Consumer Climate data and producer price index (PPI) inflation rate figures

  • UK: November CPI and PPI inflation rate data. Also, October House Price Index

  • US: Conference Board Consumer Confidence measure

  • Results: General Mills Q2, Micron Technology Q1, Petrofac trading update, Steelcase Q3, Winnebago Industries Q1


  • The Restaurant Group acquisition by Apollo Global Management is expected to be completed, after shareholders approved the deal at an extraordinary general meeting last month

  • Turkey: interest rate decision

  • UK: November public finances update

  • US: final Q3 GDP figures

  • Results: CarMax Q3, Carnival Q4, Carr’s Group FY, Nike Q2, PayChex Q2


  • UK: November retail sales figures and final Q3 GDP data. Financial markets close early for the Christmas break

  • US: November durable goods orders and new home sales figures

  • Results: Kernel Q1

World events

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


  • Egypt: results announced in the country’s presidential election

  • Japan: commemorative summit to mark the 50th anniversary of Asean-Japan co-operation. The event runs until Wednesday

  • UK: foreign secretary Lord David Cameron’s first appearance since his appointment before the panel of MPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee

  • UK: deadline for senior NHS doctors, known as consultants, to vote on further strike action beyond the existing mandate, which expires on December 26


  • UK: House of Lords International Agreements Committee hears evidence from home secretary James Cleverly on the UK-Rwanda asylum agreement. Today is also the recall petition deadline in Peter Bone MP’s Wellingborough constituency

  • US: 25th anniversary of the then president Bill Clinton being impeached by the House of Representatives over the Monica Lewinsky scandal


  • DRC: presidential, parliamentary and local elections

  • UK: Junior doctors in England begin another three days of strike action in their ongoing dispute over pay and conditions in the NHS



  • The Winter Solstice, shortest day of the year and first day of winter in the northern hemisphere

  • Spain: the world’s biggest lottery draw, Lotería de Navidad, or El Gordo (The Fat One), is announced. There is no single jackpot but rather a complex share-the-wealth system in which thousands of five-digit numbers win something

  • UK: Official UK Music Charts Christmas number one announced on BBC Radio 1


  • Busiest shopping day of the year in the UK and Ireland as predicted by shopper analytics providers Sensormatic Solutions

  • UK: Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, the 106th edition of this annual service featuring readings and carols sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge


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