The Week Ahead

JB Hi-Fi and Woolworths kick off earnings season, while US labour data will provide more clues to the Federal Reserve's stimulus plans.

The new year has well and truly started, and it’s time for half-year earnings season. Companies to keep an eye on this week include JB Hi-Fi and Woolworths.

The Reserve Bank of Australia will hold its first board meeting of 2014, but the central bank is not tipped to make any changes to the official cash rate.

In local news, all eyes will be on building approvals and retail sales data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while offshore, investors may hope United States employment data will give clues about future stimulus moves by the US central bank.

Reserve Bank of Australia

The Reserve Bank will release its first cash rate decision of the year this week but surprises are unlikely.

On Tuesday the RBA will hold its monthly board meeting. Analysts expect the central bank to leave the official cash rate on hold at the record low of 2.5 per cent.

On Friday the Reserve Bank will publish its quarterly statement on monetary policy.

Local news

Three regular Australian Industry Group data drops are expected in the first week of the month, while ABS releases on building approvals, retail sales and the trade balance will also be of interest.

On Monday Ai Group will set out its January performance of manufacturing index.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals December building approvals data.

The RP Data/Rismark house price index for January, the January TD Securities Inflation gauge, the January commodity index and ANZ job advertisements for January are also due.

On Wednesday Ai Group publishes its January performance of services index.

On Thursday the ABS will set out trade balance and retail sales data for December, while the National Australia Bank will hand down its fourth-quarter business confidence survey.

On Friday Ai Group will unveil its January performance of construction index, while January foreign reserves figures are also due.

Corporate

Half-year earnings season kicks off this week, with reports expected from JB Hi-Fi, 21st Century Fox and News Corporation, as well as a sales update from Woolworths.

On Monday JB Hi-Fi announces its half-year results, while Charter Hall Retail REIT will hold an extraordinary general meeting.

On Tuesday Downer EDI is set to share its half-year results and Challenger Diversified Property Group also releases its half-year results.

On Thursday Woolworths posts its second-quarter sales and revenue update, while Tabcorp half-year results are on tap.

On Friday 21st Century Fox and News Corporation will release second-quarter results and Alcoa has its record date.

Overseas

Employment data from the United States will be watched closely this week, with investors hoping for clues about the Federal Reserve’s future tapering plans.

On Monday in China, non-manufacturing PMI for January will be released.

On Tuesday in the United States, Markit PMI for January will print, with a read of 53.8 expected.

ISM manufacturing for January is due, with Bloomberg economists forecasting a print of 56.4.

December construction spending is expected to print at 0.4 per cent and January vehicle sales data is tipped to print at 15.6 million.

On Wednesday December factory orders are due, with Bloomberg economists expecting a read of 0.9 per cent.

On Thursday MBA mortgage applications are expected.

On Friday, in China, HSBC/Markit services PMI for January will be unveiled.

In the United States, the December trade balance is due, with Bloomberg economists tipping a deficit of $US35.8 billion.

Fourth quarter non-farm productivity is also expected, with Bloomberg economists forecasting a read of 2.4 per cent, while initial jobless claims and the Bloomberg consumer comfort survey are also due.

Late Friday, January employment data will be unveiled, with Bloomberg economists forecasting a non-farm payrolls print of 175,000 and an unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent.

Consumer credit data for December is also due and Bloomberg economists expect a read of $US12 billion.

Wrapping up

The events season has started again after the summer holiday, with speeches from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and ANZ boss Mike Smith set to be closely watched.

On Wednesday in Perth, ANZ chief executive officer Mike Smith and WA treasurer Troy Buswell will speak at a lunch run by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

Also in Perth, US Consul General Cynthia Griffin addresses an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia breakfast.

In Canberra, Australian Workers’ Union national secretary Paul Howes will headline a National Press Club lunch.

On Thursday in Sydney, Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe is set to speak at an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch.

On Friday in Sydney, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will address a Trans-Tasman Business Circle lunch.