THE WEEK AHEAD

Economic news in Australia grabs the spotlight once again, with the RBA set to make its interest rate decision a day prior to the release of the latest GDP figures.

The week ahead brings a glut of important economic indicators, headlined by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s last interest rate decision for the year.

Locally, highly anticipated gross domestic product data will be released, along with current account balance figures and labour force data. Offshore, jobless claims data, durable goods order figures and factory order numbers are due in the US. Elsewhere, both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank will make interest rate decisions.

In corporate news, Ten Network Holdings and Bank of Queensland will hold annual general meetings, while Australia Post’s chief executive and managing director, Ahmed Fahour, will speak at a corporate function.

RBA

On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia will hold its December policy meeting, where it will make its decision on interest rates for the month.

The meeting will be the central bank’s last for 2011, and the board will not meet again until February 7.

Last month, the central bank moved to cut rates for the first time in 12 months, noting differences in economic strength across industries and defying economists’ expectations.

Analysts are divided on the direction the RBA may take, but are leaning towards another 0.25 point cut, leaving the official cash rate at 4.25 per cent.

On Thursday, RBA governor Glenn Stevens will deliver a speech at the inaugural Warren Hogan Memorial Lecture in Sydney. Investors will listen carefully for any reflection on Tuesday’s decision, and what the bank has in mind for monetary policy in the future.

Local news

Monday sees the Australian Bureau of Statistics release business indicators data for October, while the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australian Industry Group performance of services index for November is due. Elsewhere, ANZ Banking Group will release its job advertisements survey for November, while the TD Securities-Melbourne Institute monthly inflation gauge is also on tap.

On Tuesday, the ABS will release current account balance data for September.

Wednesday sees the release of highly anticipated third quarter gross domestic product data. Economists are predicting the figures to show the economy grew by 1.2 per cent in the September quarter. Elsewhere, the Australian Industry Group will release its performance of construction index for November.

On Thursday, labour force data for October is set for release. Analysts are tipping the data to show a 10,000 lift in employment for the month, leaving the unemployment rate at 5.2 per cent. The amount of hours worked is expected to have grown by 0.2 per cent in the month.

Corporate

Corporate news thins out in the week ahead as we move closer to the quiet Christmas period.

On Thursday, Bank of Queensland holds its annual general meeting, while Ten Network Holdings will hold its annual general meeting on Friday.

Offshore

Overseas, US factory orders data for October is due on Monday, along with the ISM non-manufacturing index for November. The ISM index is expected to show a reading of 53.0, indicating expansion.

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