The week to come: Van Hool, striking prison guards, inflation, Trump and list numbers


March 31, 2024
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Who picks up which remains of bus builder Van Hool? How will the clash between the prison guards and Minister of Justice Paul Van Tigchelt (Open VLD) end? Will inflation in the eurozone continue to decline? And will Trump get his bail together? You will find out this week.

An atypical trade fair week presents itself. Most European stock exchanges will remain closed on Monday for Easter Monday. There is trading on Wall Street and in Shanghai and Tokyo. The Chinese stock exchanges are closed again on Thursday and Friday due to the Qingming Festival. In an otherwise calm results week, the moribund Leuven biotech company Oxurion will report figures on Friday. Also on the agenda:

1. Who will take over which parts of Van Hool?

The company court in Mechelen is expected to declare the bankruptcy of bus builder Van Hool on Tuesday, after which co-CEO Marc Zwaaneveld will pass the baton to a curator. Until then, the crisis manager’s negotiations with prospective acquirers may continue.

In addition to the West Flemish entrepreneur Guido Dumarey and the Dutch-German industrial duo VDL-Schmitz Cargobull, a fourth party has announced itself to take over parts of Van Hool, De Tijd reported on Friday. Which acquirer will succeed, with which activities and while retaining how many employees? That should become clear this week. VDL also happens to be releasing annual figures this week.

2. How long will the prison strike last?

The prison guards’ unions are announcing a strike ‘of indefinite duration’ from 10 pm on Monday, after consultations with Minister of Justice Paul Van Tigchelt (Open VLD) last week failed. The stumbling block is precisely the minimum service during strikes. Two weeks ago it emerged that a detainee in Antwerp prison had been horribly abused by cellmates for days, when a strike was launched due to persistent overcrowding. Will the minister and the unions still reach an agreement?

3. European inflation and American labor market

Eurostat will publish inflation figures for March on Wednesday. Economists expect inflation in the euro zone to have fallen to 2.5 percent, compared to 2.6 percent in February. But European inflation figures are likely to be lower than those forecasts, because France and Italy published lower-than-expected inflation figures last Friday. The evolution of inflation will determine when the European Central Bank cuts interest rates for the first time. The money market expects the first interest rate cut in June.

Another indicator of the economy’s cooling and the timing of the first interest rate cuts comes on Friday, when the U.S. Department of Labor releases its monthly labor market report. Economists predict that the number of jobs rose by 203,000 in March, compared to 275,000 in February. The unemployment rate may have remained stable at 3.9 percent. In our country, the Planning Bureau will provide an update on the inflation prospects on Tuesday.

4. Will Donald Trump be coughed up $175 million?

Last Monday, the Court of Appeal in New York threw former American president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump a lifeline in the fraud case surrounding his real estate empire. After a conviction, he had to post a bond of almost half a billion dollars in time, but the court reduced that amount to $ 175 million and gave him ten extra days.

That deadline expires on Thursday. To avoid a property seizure, Trump must raise $175 million by then. In the meantime, Trump sees his social media platform Truth Social flames on the stock market.

5. Which party gets which list number?

In this first Easter week, the federal parliament will not yet go into recess, because it is not a school holiday in French-speaking Belgium. Many committees even work overtime. After all, the government wants to pass all kinds of laws before the June 9 elections and the dissolution of parliament at the beginning of May.

Another evergreen in the run-up to elections is the drawing of list numbers, which determines the order in which the lists are presented to the voter. This will happen on Friday, under the approving eye of Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V). Traditionally, each party will come up with an original reason why its list number is the best.

6. Who will win Paris-Roubaix?

After a somewhat decapitated edition of Flanders’ Most Beautiful for the men, without Wout van Aert and with an unapproachable Mathieu van der Poel as winner, the cycling peloton will continue to Paris via the Scheldeprijs in Schoten on Wednesday. Who will succeed Van der Poel and Alison Jackson on the Roubaix cycling track?

Financial-economic agenda

Easter Monday: stock markets closed

  • Update inflation forecasts from the Planning Bureau
  • Germany: inflation March
  • Eurozone: March inflation
  • Eurozone: unemployment in February
  • Germany: industrial orders February
  • US: unemployment in March
  • Results: Oxurion

General agenda

Start strike notice in prisons

  • International conference for support to Ukraine, organized by the Netherlands, Ukraine and the European Commission
  • Portugal: swearing-in of new government
  • Senegal: new president Diomaye Faye takes office

Egypt: President Al-Sisi’s third term starts

  • 75 years of NATO
  • US: Deadline for former President Donald Trump to post $175 million bail
  • Belarus: parliamentary elections
  • Visit of Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib to Congo (until April 10)
  • Drawing of list numbers for elections on June 9

Slovakia: second round of presidential elections

The article is in Dutch

Tags: week Van Hool striking prison guards inflation Trump list numbers


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