The Week Ahead

The RBA meets on interest rates with GDP, building approvals and retail sales to ponder over, while the Federal Reserve will find out about the strength of the US jobs recovery.

Economists have been known to call this week the “autumn avalanche”, as a raft of data releases are set for the start of the new quarter. Locally, GDP numbers, building approvals and retail sales will be in focus.

Company earnings season is mostly finished, with no major reports scheduled, although the major miners will go ex-dividend.

The Reserve Bank of Australia will hold its first board meeting of the season, while its United States counterpart will release its Beige Book. Offshore, investors will also be eyeing US employment data.

Reserve Bank

The Reserve Bank will hand down its monthly interest rate decision this week, but no surprises are expected.

On Tuesday, the bank will announce the outcome of its March board meeting, with the central bank widely expected to leave the official cash rate on hold at a record low of 2.5 per cent, after saying in February that it was likely prudent to leave rates on hold for a period.

Local news

Key data releases this week include GDP, building approvals and retail sales, while the Australian Industry Group will publish its monthly check on the manufacturing sector.

On Monday, Ai Group will release its February performance of manufacturing index, while the RP Data/Rismark House Price Index for the same month is due.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will divulge December-quarter company operating profit data.

The February TD Securities Inflation gauge, the HIA new home sales figures for January and ANZ’s February job advertisements are also expected.

On Tuesday, the ABS will disclose January building approvals data and the December quarter current account balance.

On Wednesday, the ABS will unveil December quarter GDP data, Ai Group will publish its performance of services index for February and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries will release new vehicle sales numbers for the same month.

On Thursday, the ABS will release January retail sales figures, as well as the trade balance for the same month.

On Friday, the February Ai Group performance of construction index is due.

Corporate

The bulk of half-year reporting season has drawn to a close, with no major company earnings announcements scheduled this week.

On Monday, BHP Billiton goes ex-dividend.

On Wednesday, Rio Tinto will go ex-dividend.

On Friday BHP Billiton has its record date, while Arrium and Brambles go ex-dividend.

Overseas

Investors will be watching US employment data this week, hoping for insights into the Federal Reserve’s future tapering plans.

On Saturday, in China, the February manufacturing purchasing managers’ index will print, with a read of 50.0 expected.

On Monday, China's non-manufacturing PMI for February will print, while the HSBC/Markit manufacturing PMI for the same month is also due.

On Tuesday, in the United States, Markit PMI for February will be disclosed, while the ISM manufacturing survey for February is expected, with a lift to 52.0 forecast.

January constructing spending is tipped to fall by 0.3 per cent, while February total vehicle sales are expected to lift to 15.35 million and January personal income data is forecast to lift by 0.3 per cent.

On Wednesday, in China, HSBC/Markit services PMI for February will be unveiled.

On Thursday, in the United States, the Federal Reserve will release its Beige Book.

The February ADP employment change will print, with a fall to 150,000 tipped, while the ISM non-manufacturing composite for the same month will be disclosed, with a slight fall to 53.7 expected.

On Friday fourth-quarter nonfarm productivity data will be published, with a 2.6 per cent rise forecast, while the RBC consumer outlook index will also print.

Initial jobless claims data is expected, the Bloomberg consumer comfort is due and January factory orders are likely to show an unchanged result.

Late Friday, February nonfarm payrolls are due, with a lift to 150,000 expected.

The February unemployment rate is tipped to hold steady at 6.6 per cent.

The January trade balance and January consumer credit data will also be published.

Wrapping up

Board members from companies including Wesfarmers, BHP Billiton and Woodside will take part in panel discussions this week, while two senators will address the National Press Club.

On Monday, in Melbourne, the Australian Institute of Company Directors will host a panel discussion featuring Bank of Melbourne Chairman Elizabeth Proust, Wesfarmers Ltd director Charles Macek and Mirvac Group director Elana Rubin, facilitated by Business Spectator editor in chief Alan Kohler.

On Tuesday, in Adelaide, BHP Billiton director Carolyn Hewson and Melco Crown Entertainment director James MacKenzie will speak at an AICD lunch.

On Wednesday, in Sydney, Promontory Financial Group chief executive officer and former Wallis Enquiry committee member Jeff Carmichael will speak at a lunch run by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

In Canberra, Senator Michaelia Cash, Senator Claire Moore and Executive Director of UN Women Australia Julie McKay will speak at the National Press Club.

On Friday, in Geraldton, Western Australia, Woodside Petroleum director Frank Cooper will speak at an AICD lunch.

In Melbourne, Telstra group managing director of enterprise and government Paul Gearson will speak at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia lunch.

In Perth, Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski will speak at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia lunch.

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