THE WEEK AHEAD

Earnings season is blooming with CBA, Fortescue, Qantas and Wesfarmers all reporting, along with scores of others.

The week ahead sees the February reporting season move into full swing, with a plethora of big names revealing earnings to the market.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, OZ Minerals, Fortescue Metals, Qantas Airways and Wesfarmers are among the big names reporting this week.

Elsewhere, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Leighton Holdings, Paladin Energy, ASX and QR National will also reveal results.

Locally, housing finance data is set for release, along with car sales figures and labour force numbers.

Offshore, the US consumer price index, retail sales data and business inventories figures are due.

The deadline for Greece to submit a final debt swap offer to its private bondholders occurs, while the World Trade Organisation will hold its general council meeting.

RBA

On Tuesday, Reserve Bank of Australia assistant governor Guy Debelle will speak at a Bloomberg financial markets seminar in Sydney.

Thursday sees RBA assistant governor Philip Lowe address a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event in Sydney.

Investors will watch both engagements closely for any reflection on the central bank’s surprise decision to keep interest rates on hold, and an indication of the future direction rates will take.

Economists are still expecting at least one rate cut at some stage during 2012.

Local news

The week in local news sees a number of important indicators from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and several private releases that should catch the eye of investors.

On Monday, the ABS will release housing finance data for December. Analysts expect the value of all loans rose one per cent in the month.

Tuesday sees National Australia Bank release its business confidence and business conditions index for January.

Wednesday brings lending finance data for December and January new car sales figures from the ABS.

Auto sales are tipped to have lifted one per cent in the month.

Elsewhere, the Westpac Banking Group/Melbourne Institute leading index is on tap.

The ABS will unveil labour force data for January on Thursday. Economists are tipping the total number of jobs to have expanded by 15,000 in the first month of 2012, taking the unemployment rate to 5.3 per cent.

Corporate

The continuing February earnings season dominates the week ahead in corporate news.

Monday results:

- Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. Goldman Sachs are expecting the lender to post a 0.1 per cent lift in profit to $162.3 million.

- Leighton Holdings. Analysts expect the group to post a 57.2 per cent jump in profit to $340.6 million.

- JB Hi-Fi. The retailer is tipped to unveil a 47.1 per cent fall in profit to $46.5 million.

Elsewhere, Singapore Telecommunications will release quarterly sales data to the market, while overseas, Bilfinger Berger and Deutsche Boerse will reveal earnings data in Europe.

Tuesday results:

- Paladin Energy. Analysts expect a narrower loss of $6.3 million in the first half, from a $24.2 million in the previous corresponding period.

Elsewhere, interim results from GWA Group, Hills Holdings, Oakton and SAI Global are on tap.

Wednesday results:

- Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The only one of the big four banks to report earnings in February is expected to post cash earnings of $3.5215 billion for the half, a 6.3 per cent rise on last year’s figure.

- Fortescue Metals. Goldman Sachs expects the group to report a profit of $767.6 million, which is 27.5 per cent weaker than its first half last year.

- OZ Minerals. Analysts are tipping the group to post a 44 per cent fall in net profit to $261 million.

- Westfield. Economists from Goldman Sachs believe the company will post a $1.4647 billion profit, 22.1 per cent lower than the previous corresponding period.

Elsewhere, Carsales, Dexus Property, Dominoes Pizza, Flexigroup, Primary Health Care and the Reject Shop are all due to report interim figures.

Thursday results:

- AMP. Reporting for the full year, AMP is expected to post a 9.1 per cent jump in profit to $848 million.

- Qantas. The airline is expected to unveil a $180.1 million interim profit, 56.6 per cent softer than last year.

- Wesfarmers. Analysts are tipping a $1.2644 billion profit, 9.8 per cent stronger than the previous corresponding period.

Elsewhere, annual results are awaited from Adelaide Brighton, Alumina and Oceana Gold, while interim reports are expected from Ardent, ASX, Brambles, Goodman Group, QR National and Salmat.

GrainCorp will hold its annual general meeting on Thursday, and offshore, Societe Generale, AXA SA, General Motors Co and Barrick Gold will reveal earnings figures.

Friday results:

- Santos. Goldman Sachs analysts think the energy group will post a full-year net profit of $493 million, 31 per cent higher than last year’s figure.

Billabong International is due to unveil interim earnings results, alongside Charter Hall, Spotless Group and Treasury Wine Estates.

Offshore

The week in overseas news sees a large amount of key data released in the United States.

On Tuesday, US retail sales and business inventories data is released. Experts are tipping retail sales to have jumped by 0.6 per cent. Import and export price data are also due.

In the United Kingdom, RICS housing price balance data for January is set for release. January consumer price index figures are also on tap, along with the retail price index for the month.

The Bank of Japan will make its interest rate decision for February on Tuesday, wrapping up a busy day globally.

Wednesday sees the release of the New York Empire State manufacturing survey for February in the US. US Treasury international capital data is also on tap, along with the weekly Energy Information Administration petroleum status report.

Industrial production figures and the housing market index are due. Economists think industrial production probably grew by 0.6 per cent in the month.

Elsewhere, the US Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its latest policy meeting.

In the UK, average earnings data for the three months to February are on tap. Quarterly ILO unemployment rate data is also due.

Thursday brings US housing starts data for January and weekly jobless claims figures. Analysts believe starts jumped 2 per cent in the month.

January producer price index data and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey are also awaited. Producer prices are expected to have risen by 0.2 per cent.

On Friday, US consumer price index figures are on tap. A 0.2 per cent lift in the core rate is expected. January retail sales data is due in the UK.

Wrapping up

Rounding off the week, Monday is the deadline for Greece to submit a final debt swap offer to its private sector bondholders.

Closer to home, Australian Bankers' Association chief executive officer Steven Mnchenberg will speak on the European debt crisis at an Australian Institute of Company Directors event in Canberra.

Association of Super Funds Australia chief executive officer Pauline Vamos will address a CEDA function in Brisbane.

US President Barack Obama will publish his budget proposal for 2013 on Monday. The President is also scheduled to meet Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in the week.

Tuesday sees the World Trade Organisation kick off its two-day general council meeting.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia Federal Reserve president Charles Plosser will speak in the US on the economic outlook, while Atlanta Federal Reserve president Dennis Lockhart will also speak.

Wednesday brings a speech from Nestle Australia chairperson Elizabeth Proust at a CEDA event in Brisbane.

In the US, Dallas Federal Reserve president Richard Fisher will give the keynote address at the 2012 Texas Manufacturers Summit.

On Thursday, Incitec Pivot managing director and chief executive officer James Fazzino will speak at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia business briefing in Melbourne.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will speak in the US.

The two day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of finance and central bank deputies will begin on Thursday.

Elsewhere, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development will host its two day global forum on competition in Paris.

Friday sees HSBC Australia chief economist for Australia and New Zealand Paul Bloxham address a CEDA function in Melbourne.

Productivity Commission chairman Gary Banks and Bank of Melbourne chief executive officer Scott Tanner will speak at the same event.

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