THE WEEK AHEAD

A flood of economic data may have to take a back seat to political developments, while companies including Woolworths and QBE will round off earning season.

The week ahead brings a swathe of important economic indicators, as well as one last hurrah from the February earnings season.

A huge week in local news is dominated by the release of capital expenditure data for the December quarter.

Elsewhere, retail sales, building approvals and construction work figures are set for release.

Overseas, US gross domestic product data is due, as well at the US government’s Beige Book, its report on the country’s current economic situation.

In corporate news, Woolworths is set to unveil interim results, while QBE, Lynas Corporation and James Hardie will also report.

All eyes will be on Canberra on Monday, when the Australia Labor Party will have the option to select a new leader after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a spill of the party due to ongoing tension between her and recently-departed Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

The Greek parliament will hold its vote on the second European Union bailout offered to the country in the week ahead, while European leaders will meet for an economic summit.

ALP leadership spill

At 1000 AEDT on Monday, the Labor party caucus will meet in Canberra to vote on a new leader, after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that she would spill the party amid unrest surrounding her prime ministership.

The uncertainty created by the ordeal led to a fall in the local sharemarket on Thursday, and investors will be looking for a quick resolution to the issue.

Recently-departed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is expected to stand for the leadership, bringing to an end weeks of political posturing between the prime minister and her predecessor.

The result of the ballot has wide-ranging implications for the political situation in Australia, with the slim majority the government currently holds under threat should any ALP members resign from parliament following the vote.

Gillard is currently favoured to win the ballot, sending Rudd back to the backbench.

Local news

The biggest week in local news for the year so far sees a host of crucial releases made available by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Monday sees the Housing Industry Association release its housing affordability index for the December quarter.

On Wednesday, the ABS will release retail trade data for January, as well as December quarter construction work figures.

Economists are tipping retail sales to have risen 0.5 per cent in the month, while a 1 per cent fall in construction activity is predicted.

January private sector credit data will also be released. Analysts expect the data to show a 0.3 per cent rise.

Elsewhere, RP Data and Rismark will unveil their house price index for the month of January.

The HIA is due to report new home sales data for January as well as its housing affordability index for the fourth quarter.

Rounding off a big day, the Australian Industry Group will release manufacturing index data.

Thursday brings highly anticipated fourth quarter CAPEX data from the ABS. Analysts are expecting a flat result after strong gains in September.

Building approvals figures for December are also due. The volatile nature of the series is tipped to continue, with a five per cent rise in approvals predicted.

Corporate

The end of February brings the end of the official earnings season, and a number of companies plan on rushing in before the final bell.

Monday results:

-Caltex Australia will reveal half-yearly figures. Goldman Sachs economists are tipping the group to unveil a 16.1 per cent fall in profit to $266.4 million.

Goodman Fielder, ROC Oil Company, Select Harvests will also reveal interim results.

Full-year figures from Spark Infrastructure are on tap.

Elsewhere, BHP Billiton will go ex-dividend, along with AMP, Coca-Cola Amatil and ASX.

Overseas, HSBC Holdings will reveal earnings results.

Tuesday results:

-QBE will unveil full year results. Analysts are tipping the company to post a fall in net profit of $US704 million.

Petsec Energy and Aristocrat Leisure will also report.

Elsewhere, interim results are expected from Boral, Gloucester Coal, Southern Cross Media, AWE and Prime Media.

Quarterly sales figures are due from James Hardie Industries.

Wednesday results:

-Lynas Corporation is due to report interim results. Goldman Sachs is tipping the company to widen its underlying loss to $18.3 million.

-WorleyParsons, which is expected to post a 27.8 per cent rise in net profit to $164.4 million.

Medusa Mining, Sandfire Resources and Western Areas are also due to report half-yearly figures.

Elsewhere, Rio Tinto will pay its final dividend.

In Europe, construction group Hochtief is due to report earnings figures.

Thursday results:

-Woolworths. The supermarket giant is tipped to post a 3.8 per cent rise in profit to $1.2062 billion.

Offshore

A big week in the United States dominates overseas news in the week ahead, with GDP data for the fourth quarter due.

On Monday, the US pending home sales index for January will be released, alongside the Dallas Federal Reserve manufacturing survey.

In the UK, January mortgage approvals data will be released, as well as the CBI distributive trades survey for February.

European Monetary Union money supply data for January will also be announced.

Tuesday sees the release of February consumer confidence data in the US, alongside figures on durable goods orders for January.

Analysts expect orders to have fallen 0.5 per cent in the month, while consumer confidence may have risen two points to 63.1.

The S&P Case Shiller home price index will also be released, and is expected to show a 0.2 per cent fall in prices during the month of December.

Wednesday brings highly anticipated gross domestic product data for the December quarter released in the US.

Analysts are expecting the figures to confirm annualised growth figures of 2.8 per cent.

The US government’s Beige Book will also be released, its report on the country’s current economic situation.

Elsewhere, Chicago purchasing managers index figures and the weekly Energy Information Association petroleum status report will be released.

In the UK, GfK is due to release consumer confidence data for February.

January consumer credit for January is on tap, along with December quarter M4 money supply data.

US car sales data and construction spending figures headline Thursday in the US.

Elsewhere, jobless claims data and the ISM manufacturing index for February is on tap. The index is tipped to show a reading of around 55, indicating ongoing expansion.

Personal income and outlays figures will also be released. Economists are tipping the figures to show a 0.5 per cent rise in incomes and a 0.4 per cent lift in spending.

Greek gross domestic product data will be released on Friday, which will be heavily monitored in the wake of the approval of its second EU bailout.

Rounding off

Wrapping up the week, Monday sees European Council president Jose Barroso speak on the future of the European Union.

European Union competition commissioner Joaqun Almunia will appear before the European Parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee. He will appear again on Tuesday.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Greek parliament will hold its vote on the second bailout granted to the country by the EU.

Locally, Pacific Brands chairman James Mackenzie and BHP non-executive director Carolyn Hewson will speak at an Australian Institute of Company Directors event in Adelaide.

US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich will speak at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia event in Perth.

NSW Treasurer Mike Baird will address a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia event in Sydney.

Overseas, European Council President Barroso will address an EU conference.

Bank of England deputy governor Paul Tucker is due to talk at the British society of business economists annual dinner.

Wednesday sees Yellow Brick Road chairman Mark Bouris address an AICD event in Brisbane.

Cleveland Federal Reserve president Sandra Pianalto will speak on the prospects for the US economy in the US.

Almunia will continue his busy week, by addressing the New Economy Forum in Madrid.

EU internal market and services commissioner Michel Barnier will address a conference in Europe on the credibility of European governance.

In the US, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will deliver his semi-annual monetary policy report.

Dallas Federal Reserve president Richard Fisher will give a speech on the US economy.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve president Charles Plosser will also speak.

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt will be a guest speaker at the Centre for European Policy Studies.

Rounding off a busy Wednesday, the EU is due to release advice on potential competition and capital rules for trade settlement in the region.

On Thursday, EU leaders will kick off a two day economic summit in Europe.

Before the event, EU conservative leaders will hold a pre-summit meeting.

European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn will deliver an address to the CEPS.

Pianalto will speak again in the US.

Atlanta Federal Reserve president Dennis Lockhart will speak on the US economy and banking.

On Friday, Macquarie Telecom chief executive David Tudehope will be guest speaker at an AMCHAM business briefing in Melbourne.

US Federal Reserve president James Bullard will deliver an address on the US economy in the aftermath of the financial crisis.