The Week Ahead

The Reserve Bank releases March policy meeting minutes in the coming week, while the US prints housing starts and building data.

The week ahead is dominated by the release of the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s March policy meeting.

Elsewhere, data on skilled vacancies and merchandise imports is set for release.

Offshore, the Bank of England will also release the minutes of its last meeting, while data on housing starts and building approvals is due in the United States.

In company news, earnings reports are due from Sigma, David Jones and Bank of Queensland, while BHP and ASX will pay half-yearly dividends.

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens will speak at an investment conference in the week ahead, while Assistant Governors Malcolm Edey and Guy Debelle will also speak.

RBA

On Monday, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens will deliver a speech to the 15th Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, the RBA will release the minutes of its March policy meeting, where it kept the official cash rate on hold for the second consecutive time.

Investors will watch carefully for any reflection on the expected direction that rates will take over the rest of the year.

Most economists are still expecting at least one more rate cut in 2012.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, RBA Assistant Governor Malcolm Edey will address the 2012 Cards and Payments Australasia conference in Sydney.

On Thursday, RBA Assistant Governor Guy Debelle will speak at the 2012 Australian DMC summit in Sydney.

Local news

Local data is thin on the ground this week as the focus turns to the RBA.

Wednesday sees international merchandise figures for February reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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

Corporate

A small number of earnings reports highlight the week in company news, while a few big names will make payments to shareholders.

On Tuesday, iiNet will hold its annual general meeting.

Wednesday sees David Jones announce interim results. The department store group is expected to post a net profit of $75 million, a 29.1 per cent fall on the previous corresponding period.

Elsewhere, Kathmandu will report interim earnings figures, while ASX Ltd will pay its first-half dividend.

On Thursday, Sigma Pharmaceuticals will release full year results, while Bank of Queensland is due to unveil interim figures.

BHP is due to pay its interim dividend to shareholders, while WebJet will also trade ex-dividend.

Straits Metals will hold its AGM.

Offshore, FedEx Corp and Nike Inc will release earnings results in the US.

On Friday, Metal Storm and Paperlinx will meet shareholders at their AGMs.

Offshore

Overseas, the National Association of Home Builders housing market index for March will be released in the United States on Monday.

Tuesday sees February housing starts figures and building approval data released in the US.

Economists are tipping housing starts to be flat for the month, at around 700,000.

In the United Kingdom, February consumer price index data is awaited, alongside retail price index figures for the month.

Wednesday brings February existing home sales figures in the US, along with the weekly Energy Information Administration petroleum status report.

Analysts expect the data to show a rise in home sales of about two per cent.

Mortgage Bankers Association mortgage applications figures are also due.

Elsewhere, the Bank of England will release the minutes of its last policy meeting.

UK public sector net borrowing for February is also due.

On Thursday, highly anticipated jobless claims data is out in the US.

February retail sales data is expected in the UK.

Friday is highlighted by US new home sales figures for February, and experts expect sales to have risen by 6,000 to 327,000.

Wrapping up

Rounding off the week, Monday sees New York Federal Reserve president William Dudley speak on the US economy.

Dallas Federal Reserve president Richard Fisher will sit on a roundtable at the Centre for the study of Financial Innovation in the US.

Elsewhere, the European Union will release draft proposals regarding the regulation of shadow banks.

The International Monetary Fund will host high level talks at the two day China-India conference in New Delhi.

On Tuesday, Australian Securities and Investment Council chairman Greg Medcraft will speak at an Australian Institute of Company Directors event in Melbourne.

Virgin Australia chief financial officer Sankar Narayan will be guest speaker at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Brisbane.

WorleyParsons chief executive officer John Grill will address an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia business briefing in Sydney.

Overseas, European Central Bank governing council member Jens Weidmann will take part in a panel discussion at the Frankfurt Finance Summit, along with Bank of International Settlements deputy head of monetary and economic department Claudio Borio.

US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is to give lecture on the role of the Federal Reserve in Washington.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota will speak in Missouri.

Wednesday sees Commonwealth Bank of Australia senior economist Michael Workman speak at an ASIC event in Adelaide.

In Sydney, BT Financial Group chief executive officer Brad Copper will be guest at a TTBC event.

World Bank Group vice president and treasurer Madelyn Antoncic to will part in a panel discussion at the Frankfurt Finance Summit.

Thursday brings a speech from ConnectEast Group chief executive officer Dennis Cliche at an ACCC event in Melbourne.

Bernanke will speak at George Washington University in the US capital.

Federal Reserve of Atlanta president Dennis Lockhart will also speak in the US.

On Friday, Suncorp Bank chief executive officer David Foster and Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia Craig Drummond will speak at an AMCHAM event in Brisbane.

The European Union’s ambassador the US, Joo Vale de Almeida, will speak in Brussels.

Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis president James Bullard will address the Asian Investment Conference.

In the US, the remaining Fed board will hold a central banking conference on the financial crisis.

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