The week in business: Key indicators, results and trends

Dramatic fall in activity inevitable in various measures over the weeks and months ahead

This Week: March 23rd 

Results: Mincon Group.
Indicators: Euro zone consumer confidence flash (March); German import prices (February).

Results: Kingfisher, Nike.
Indicators: Euro zone manufacturing, services and composite purchasing managers' index (PMI) flash (March); United Kingdom manufacturing, services and composite PMI flash (March), Bank of England financial policy committee statement, industrial trends orders (March); German manufacturing, services and composite PMI flash (March); US manufacturing, services and composite PMI flash (March).

This day last week, B&Q owner Kingfisher said its French and Spanish stores would close down due to the coronavirus outbreak but its outlets in the Republic would not. That remains the case for now.

The company posts full-year results on Tuesday, an event that will be – like everything else in the world right now – made almost completely irrelevant by the global health crisis. Still, companies must continue to do so.


All 221 of Kingfisher's Castorama and Brico Dépôt stores in France have been shut down until April 14th in line with government advice, as well as 28 stores in Spain. It has more than 1,100 other outlets across Ireland, Britain and Europe.

At the time of its announcement the company said significant uncertainty exists around the impact of Covid-19, forcing it to take measures to contain costs and protect its financial position.

In a note, Davy said its debt levels appear manageable given significant available headroom and liquidity. Kingfisher will provide another update alongside its full-year results but further store closures remain a major risk to estimates.

Group like-for-like sales in February rose 7.6 per cent year-on-year, or 2.3 per cent excluding the leap year impact. Sales in the first two weeks of March were also positive.

“Efforts are under way to protect the business with immediate actions to reduce costs and optimise cash flow and liquidity,” Davy noted. “These include reducing operational expenditures, reducing stock and goods for resale, optimising working capital, stopping all but essential capex and making use of government relief measures.”

Results: Bellway, Malin.
Indicators: UK inflation (February), producer price index input and output (February), retail price index (February), distributive trades (March); German business climate, expectations and current conditions (March); US durable goods orders (February); house price index (January).

Results: GameStop.
Indicators: Irish overseas travel (February); Euro zone loans to households, companies and money supply (February); UK retail sales (February); German consumer confidence (April); US gross domestic product (fourth quarter), goods trade balance (February), corporate profits (fourth quarter), personal consumption expenditure (PCE) prices (fourth quarter).

Meetings: Bank of England interest rate decision and quantitative easing; Ibec webinar on quarterly economic outlook update for first quarter.

Even more extremely than Brexit before it, coronavirus will come to affect every corner of the business and finance world for the foreseeable future. Nothing will be reported without the tint of this pandemic.

This is particularly true of economic indicators and a dramatic fall off in activity will be recorded in various measures over the weeks and months ahead.

Only two weeks ago, the looming threat to the travel industry and particularly that reliant on airlines became apparent. Now, as the Central Statistics Office prepares to publish February figures for overseas travel, that threat came into a deeply disturbing focus.

In January, there were 654,500 trips to Ireland by overseas residents, an increase of 0.5 per cent on January, 2019. February will probably look okay, but those numbers – in an era of grounded airlines and closed borders – will go off a cliff from March.

The retail sales index for February is published on Friday and will experience a similar fate.

Results: Applegreen, Uniphar.
Indicators: Irish retail sales index (February ); UK Nationwide house prices (March), car production (February ); US personal income (February ), PCE price index (February).