THE WEEK AHEAD

All eyes will be on the RBA's rates call, while earnings season kicks off with big names including Telstra, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

The first meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia for 2012 and the beginning of the mid-year earnings season dominate a massive week ahead in economic news.

The market has waited two months to see if the central bank will follow its consecutive decisions to lower interest rates with another cut, and will finally know on Tuesday.

Elsewhere on the local calendar, retail trade data and job vacancy figures will be released.

Overseas, the Bank of England and European Central Bank will make decisions on interest rates, while jobless claims data is on tap in the United States.

In corporate news, companies including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Telstra will all reveal earnings results, as the February reporting season kicks off with a bang.

Newcrest Mining, Cochlear, and Stockland will also report.

European Union leaders will host a two-day summit in the week ahead as crisis talks over the debt situation continue.

RBA

On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia will hold its first board meeting of 2012, where it will make its decision on the official cash rate for February.

The central bank has cut rates by 0.25 per cent on the past two occasions, and recent data has suggested that the RBA is likely to continue its push toward a lower official level.

Analysts are expecting the RBA to cut rates by 0.25 basis points, taking the official cash rate to 4 per cent.

Wrapping up a big week, Friday sees the RBA release its quarterly statement on monetary policy.

Local news

The week in local news is overshadowed by the RBA's meeting, but a couple of key releases should still catch the eye of investors.

On Monday, November retail trade data will be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Analysts are expecting the data to show a 0.3 per cent rise in sales.

Elsewhere, TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute will release inflation data for January, while ANZ job advertisements data is also on tap.

Tuesday sees building approvals data for November released by the ABS.

Wednesday brings November jobs vacancies data from the ABS.

Corporate

One of the biggest periods in corporate news for the year kicks off this week, with the arrival of the mid-financial year reporting season.

In the US on Monday, Hasbro Inc, KRR Financial Holdings and Dun & Bradstreet are all due to reveal fourth-quarter earnings results.

On Tuesday, interim earnings results are due from Transurban. Goldman Sachs analysts expect the group to post proportional cash earnings of $209 million, a 30.1 per cent rise on the previous corresponding period.

Cochlear will also report. The bionic ear manufacturer is tipped to reveal a 37 per cent fall in interim profit to $52.2 million.

Elsewhere, Bradken and Challenger Diversified Property Group will report half-yearly results.

Overseas, Coca Cola Co will unveil fourth-quarter figures, while first-quarter figures are due from Walt Disney Co.

Xstrata PLC will reveal full-year earnings in the UK.

Wednesday sees the first of the big guns report for the period. BHP Billiton is due to unveil first-half earnings, and is expected to be a victim of volatile global markets.

Goldman Sachs is expecting the mining giant to post a fall in net profit to $US10.007 billion, 5.8 per cent lower than last year.

Elsewhere, Ansell will unveil interim results, while full-year results are awaited from Australand Property Group.

Offshore, Moody’s Corp and Time Warner are due to report fourth-quarter earnings, while first-quarter figures from Visa Inc are on tap.

News Corp will release second-quarter earnings to wrap up a busy day around the world.

On Thursday, mining giant Rio Tinto is due to report full-year results. Economists are tipping the company to post a profit of $US14.648 billion, a lift of 6.8 per cent when compared to the previous financial year.

Interim results are also due from Telstra Corporation. Goldman Sachs expects the group to reveal a $1.291 billion profit, a growth of 8.1 per cent on last year.

Elsewhere, Stockland Ltd, Tabcorp Holdings and BWP Trust are all expected to report interim figures.

Friday brings interim results from Newcrest Mining. The gold miner is expected to post a 5.5 per cent lift in profit to $551.9 million.

Offshore

Overseas, Tuesday brings IBD/TIPP economic optimism data for January in the United States.

On Wednesday, the US Energy Information Administration will release its weekly petroleum status report.

In the United Kingdom, the BRC retail sales monitor for January is due.

Thursday sees jobless claims data released in the US.

Elsewhere, the Bank of England will make its interest rate decision for February, while the European Central Bank will also rule on interest rates.

Analysts expect the ECB to cut rates by 0.25 basis points to 0.75 per cent.

Trade balance data for December is due in the UK, alongside RICS housing price data for January.

December industrial and manufacturing data is also on tap.

Friday brings US international trade data, as well as consumer sentiment figures.

The data is expected to show a $US48 billion trade deficit.

Elsewhere, the Reuters/Michigan consumer sentiment index for February will be released.

US Treasury budget data is also on tap.

In the UK, January producer price index data is due.

Wrapping up

Rounding off the week, Monday sees HSBC Australia and New Zealand chief economist Paul Bloxham speak at an Australian Institute of Company Directors function in Sydney.

In the US, St Louis Federal Reserve president James Bullard will speak on inflation targeting.

San Francisco Federal Reserve president John Williams will speak about the US economic recovery.

Dallas Federal Reserve president Richard Fisher will speak in the US on global economic and monetary policy.

On Tuesday, European Union leaders will meet in Brussels to kick off a two-day summit.

Wednesday sees the EU release its first Alert Mechanism report on macro-imbalances.

In Sydney, Council of Australian Governments reform council chairman Paul McClintock will speak at a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia luncheon.

On Thursday, Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser will speak at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Brisbane.

Global Risk Alliance chief executive officer Kimberly Turner will address an American Chamber of commerce In Australia (AMCHAM) event in Perth.

Friday sees South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill speak at an AMCHAM function in Adelaide.

Elsewhere, the International Energy Agency will release its monthly oil market report.

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