The Week Ahead

Myer and David Jones are set to report half-year earnings, while the Reserve Bank releases the minutes from its March meeting and its quarterly bulletin.

It’s time for round two of half-year earnings season this week, with reports due from rival department stores Myer and David Jones. Following the news that Myer wanted to consider a merger, and after the head of David Jones announced plans to quit and then decided to stay, the results could make for interesting reading.

Meanwhile the Reserve Bank of Australia will publish March meeting minutes and its quarterly bulletin, offering insights into the central bank’s outlook for economic growth and views on the Australian dollar.

Offshore, the United States Federal Reserve is set to announce whether it will keep reducing its monetary stimulus program at the rate of $US10 billion a month. A referendum in Crimea on whether to join Russia could also affect financial markets.

Reserve Bank

The Reserve Bank of Australia is set to unveil March meeting minutes this week. Investors will hope for comments on the Australian dollar and housing market.

On Tuesday, the central bank will release minutes from its March board meeting, where it decided to keep the official cash rate on hold and again signalled a period of stability in interest rates.

On Thursday, the Reserve will publish its quarterly bulletin for March.

Local news

The rush of data releases that accompanies the start of the month will slow somewhat this week.

On Monday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will publish February new motor vehicle sales data.

On Wednesday, the Westpac leading index for February is due out, as are details of February skilled vacancies.

Corporate

The two big department stores will release first-half results this week, following Myer’s approach to rival David Jones late last year to consider a merger.

On Wednesday, David Jones will release its first-half results.

On Thursday, Myer will report its first-half results.

On Friday, first-half results are due from Brickworks, Washington H Soul Pattinson and Oroton Group.

Overseas

All eyes will be on the United States Federal Reserve this week, as it decides whether to keep scaling back its bond-buying program as expected, despite the effect of severe winter weather on some data releases.

On Sunday, Crimea will hold a referendum on joining Russia, and any fresh tensions may affect markets.

On Monday, European CPI for February will be published.

On Tuesday, in the United States, the March empire manufacturing survey is due, while February industrial production is tipped to lift by 0.2 per cent.

In China, February property prices will be unveiled.

On Wednesday, in the United States, February CPI is expected to lift by 0.1 per cent, housing starts for the same month are tipped to rise by 4 per cent and February building permits are forecast to lift by 1.9 per cent.

On Thursday, the United States Federal Reserve will announce the results of its Federal Open Markets Committee meeting, where it will decide whether to keep reducing its stimulus program as planned, and whether to keep interest rates on hold at 0.25 per cent, with Chair Janet Yellen set to hold a press conference.

The fourth quarter current account balance is tipped to show an $88 billion deficit.

In China, the Bloomberg March China economic survey is expected.

On Friday, February existing home sales are tipped to lift by 0.3 per cent, while the leading index for the same month is forecast to rise 0.2 per cent.

Weekly jobless claims and the Bloomberg consumer comfort survey are due.

Wrapping up

Highlights of the speaking circuit this week will include Wesfarmers Resources’ Stewart Butel, Bank of Queensland’s Stuart Grimshaw and HSBC’s Paul Bloxham.

On Tuesday, in Melbourne, Productivity Commissioner Alison McClelland will speak at a lunch hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

In Canberra, Chief Scientist Ian Chubb will address the National Press Club.

On Wednesday, in Adelaide, HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham will speak at a CEDA lunch.

On Thursday, in Brisbane, a CEDA lunch will feature Wesfarmers Resources managing director Stewart Butel, Bank of Queensland managing director Stuart Grimshaw, Aurizon chief executive officer Lance Hockridge, Ausenco chief executive officer Zimi Meka and Thiess managing director Bruce Munro.

On Friday, in Melbourne, Environment Minister Greg Hunt will speak at a CEDA forum.