THE WEEK AHEAD

Inflation data will attract plenty of attention as the next RBA meeting edges closer, while US GDP will be the focus offshore.

The week ahead brings the first major local economic indicator for 2012, with the release of highly anticipated inflation data, while the mid-year corporate earnings season continues in the United States.

Locally, both the producer price and consumer price indexes are due, which will be closely watched by investors and analysts alike. Overseas, fourth quarter gross domestic product data is set for release in the US, while the Federal Reserve will hold its first monetary policy meeting for 2012.

In company news, Apple Inc, McDonalds, Boeing and Yahoo will headline a massive week in US corporate earnings. Other names set to report include Chevron, Hutchinson Technology and Peabody Energy Corp.

Elsewhere, the World Economic Forum will hold its annual meeting, while the International Monetary Fund is due to update its global financial stability report.

Local news

The week in local news is dominated by two key indicators from the ABS.

On Monday, the December quarter producer price index will be released by the statistics bureau.

Wednesday sees the release of the ABS’s highly-anticipated consumer price index for December. Analysts are expecting a slight 0.2 per cent lift in consumer prices for the quarter.

The data is sure to catch the eye of the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is still enjoying its extended Christmas break. The central bank, which has cut interest rates at its last two meetings, will monitor the figures closely given weaker-than-expected employment data released last week. The RBA returns for its first meeting in 2012 on February 7.

Elsewhere, the Department of Education and Workplace Relations will release its skilled vacancies index for December.

On Thursday, local markets will be closed for the Australia Day holiday.

Corporate

The week in corporate news is again dominated by earnings results from the US, while several big South Korean manufacturing names will also report.

Monday sees Acer Incorporated, Arrow Financial Corp, Coal & Allied Industries Ltd and Halliburton Co all reveal results to the market.

Hyundai Motors and LG Electronics Inc will publish earnings in South Korea.

On Tuesday, Petsec Energy will release quarterly sales data to the market. Offshore, Apple Inc, Harley-Davidson Inc, Hutchinson Technology Inc and Johnson & Johnson will reveal earnings. Results from Peabody Energy Corp and Yahoo! Inc are also on tap.

Wednesday brings earnings from Boeing and ConocoPhillips in the US.

On Friday, Chevron Corp will release earnings results, while KIA Motors Corp and Samsung Electronics are also expected to report.

Offshore

Overseas, key data releases from the US and Europe will be in the spotlight, as concerns over global growth weigh on investor sentiment globally.

On Monday, European Monetary Union consumer confidence data for December is due.

Tuesday sees the Richmond Federal Reserve manufacturing index for January released.

In the United Kingdom, December net borrowing data for the public sector is on tap. Elsewhere, the Bank of Japan will make its interest rate decision for January.

On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve will hold its first monthly policy meeting of the New Year, where it will make a decision on interest rates for January. Economists are predicting the central bank to make no change to the current official cash rate.

Elsewhere, the pending home sales index for December is due, along with the weekly Energy Information Administration petroleum status report. Mortgage Bankers Association weekly mortgage applications data is also on tap.

In the UK, minutes of the Bank of England’s last meeting, including voting details, will be released. Gross domestic product data for the third quarter is also awaited, along with the CBI industrial trends survey.

Thursday sees US jobless claims data released alongside new home sales figures.

Durable goods orders data is also expected, with orders expected to have risen by 1.8 per cent.

Friday brings gross domestic product data for the fourth quarter in the US. Analysts believe the data will show the economy grew at a 3 per cent annual pace in the three months to December. Consumer sentiment figures are also on tap.

In the UK, Gfk consumer confidence data for January will be released.

Wrapping up

Rounding off the week, Monday sees the US EIA publish its annual energy outlook report for 2012.

On Tuesday, European Central Bank executive board member Jos Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo will speak at a Bloomberg sovereign debt conference.

The International Monetary Fund will publish updates to its world economic outlook, global financial stability report and fiscal monitor and ECB governing council member Jens Weidmann will address a New Year reception hosted by Deutsche Boerse.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, which will last for three days until the 29th. Elsewhere, the European Union’s first alert mechanism report on macro-imbalances is on tap.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for talks in Berlin.

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