THE WEEK AHEAD

Locally, trade and building approval figures will dominate the week's economic news, while offshore the US earnings season starts to wind down.

The week ahead brings a steady flow of economic data, with a mixture of local and offshore figures awaiting investors.

In Australia, trade balance data, building approvals and the house price index will be released.

In the US, car sales data, construction spending figures and factory order numbers are on tap.

In corporate news, Royal Dutch Shell and Mastercard Inc will reveal earnings results, as the US reporting season gives a few last gasps.

Local news

The week in local news sees a number of important indicators that should keep the market distracted ahead of the hotly anticipated Reserve Bank of Australia board meeting in the second week of February.

On Tuesday, private sector credit data is on tap, along with National Australia Bank’s business confidence and conditions index for December. Private sector credit is expected to have lifted by 0.3 per cent in the month.

Wednesday brings the December house price index from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while Thursday sees December trade balance data and building approvals from the bureau.

Economists are expecting the trade data to show a $1.2 billion surplus for the month. Building approvals are tipped to continue to be volatile, with a 10 per cent jump expected.

Friday sees the release of the Australian Industry Group services performance of manufacturing index.

Corporate

The week in corporate news is thin, with a couple of big US names reporting as their interim earnings season draws to a close.

On Tuesday, Amazon will reveal its earnings to the market, while Wednesday sees AOL Inc and Electronic Arts follow suit.

Thursday brings results from Mastercard, New York Times Co, Royal Dutch Shell and Singapore Airlines.

Offshore

Overseas, personal income and outlays data will be released on Monday in the US. Analysts are expecting income to have risen by 0.4 per cent, outpacing a 0.1 per cent lift in spending.

Tuesday brings consumer confidence data in the US, as well as the Chicago purchasing manger’s index.

The S&P Case Shiller home price index for December is also on tap.

Wrapping up a busy day, the US employment costs index will also be released.

In the United Kingdom, Gfk consumer confidence data for January is due. December consumer credit data and M4 money supply data for the month is also awaited, along with mortgage approvals data for December.

On Wednesday, the ISM manufacturing index will be released, along with the ADP employment report for the month. The latter is tipped to show a 185,000 lift in jobs, while the ISM index is expected to have jumped from 52.6 to 53.2.

Construction spending data is also awaited, as well as the weekly Energy Information Administration petroleum status report.

Automotive sales data will also be released.

Thursday sees jobless claims released in the US, along with productivity and costs data, with the ISM manufacturing index due on Friday.

Factory orders data and the employment situation report, including non-farm payrolls, average working hours and the unemployment rate, are also on tap.

Experts are tipping the data to show a 185,000 rise in private payrolls.

Wrapping up

Rounding off the week, French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet ahead of the European Council Meeting on Monday.

On Tuesday, the US Congressional Budget Office will release its Budget and Economic Outlook for 2012.

Wednesday sees Philadelphia Federal Reserve president Charles Plosser speak on the economic outlook.

Thursday brings an update on the US economy and monetary policy from Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher.

Elsewhere, US Competition Commissioner Joaqun Almunia will address a competition conference in the US.