THE WEEK AHEAD

The spotlight is on production reports from Australia's major resources companies, while US earnings season heats up.

The week in financial news is dominated by the release of minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s last policy meeting, as well as a number of key company releases.

A huge week in corporate news sees quarterly production reports from BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Woodside Petroleum and Fortescue Metals, as well as earnings results from Bank of Queensland.

In the US, the quarterly earnings season kicks off with a bang, with Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Microsoft Corp among big names reporting.

In local data, new car sales and lending finance figures are due.

Offshore, US retail sales and housing starts data is on tap, while inflation data for the March quarter will be released in the UK.

RBA

On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia will make available the minutes of its latest policy meeting, where it kept interest rates on hold for the third consecutive time.

Investors will pore over the release for any hint on the likely direction of interest rates in the future.

On making its April decision, the RBA hinted a cut may be on the horizon given its economic forecasts were overly optimistic.

The RBA last cut the cash rate in November, but has come under intense pressure from various industries, especially the manufacturing sector, to lower the rate again.

Local news

A steady week in local news kicks off with February lending finance from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

Tuesday sees new car sales data for March released by the ABS.

On Thursday, National Australia Bank will release its business conditions index for the first quarter.

Friday sees the ABS set out international trade price data for the first quarter.

Corporate

The corporate world will catch the bulk of investor attention this week, with the major miners set to release quarterly production data.

Overseas, the US quarterly earnings season moves into full swing.

On Monday, Whitehaven Coal and Aston Resources will hold extraordinary general meetings, where shareholders in both groups are scheduled to vote in relation to their proposed merger.

In the US, Citigroup will release first-quarter earnings results.

Quarterly production figures are due from Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group on Tuesday.

Goldman Sachs will release earnings figures for the first quarter, alongside Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola and Yahoo.

Wednesday sees BHP Billiton hand down quarterly output results.

Interim earnings results from the Bank of Queensland are on tap.

Meanwhile, Blackrock, eBay and Halliburton are all due to report quarterly earnings data in the US.

On Thursday, quarterly production data is awaited from Woodside Petroleum.

Santos output data is also due.

Offshore, Bank of America Corp, Morgan Stanley, Microsoft Corp and McDonald's Corp will all reveal quarterly earnings data.

Elsewhere, Commonwealth Bank of Australia will announce an update to its corporate strategy, while Telstra Corporation will hold an investor briefing on the implementations of the national broadband network.

Offshore

A big week in overseas news sees key figures from both the US and Europe released.

In the US on Monday, retail sales data for March is due, alongside the housing market index.

Economists are tipping sales to have lifted by 0.4 per cent during the month, and by 0.6 per cent excluding cars.

February business inventories data is also awaited, as well as the New York Empire State manufacturing survey.

US Treasury international capital data is also on tap.

Tuesday brings March housing starts and industrial production figures.

Analysts expect the figures to show production rose 0.5 per cent in March.

Building permit figures for March will also be released, along with capacity utilisation numbers for the month.

In the United Kingdom, March quarter consumer price index data is awaited, as well as the retail price index for the period.

On Wednesday, the weekly Energy Information Administration petroleum status report is due.

Average earnings data for April is due in the UK, along with claimant count data for March.

ILO unemployment rate figures for the three months to April are also awaited.

Thursday sees existing home sales data released in the US, along with existing home sales figures.

Experts are tipping the data to show a 0.1 per cent increase in home sales for the month,

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey rounds out a busy day in the US.

On Friday, March retail sales data is due in the UK.

Wrapping up

Rounding off the week, Monday sees ASIC deputy chairman Belinda Gibson address the Financial Information Services Division of the Software and Information Industry Association.

The Group of 24 countries will meet in Washington, DC.

The three-day World Economic Forum on Latin America will begin in Mexico.

European Central Bank governing council member Ewald Nowotny and Czech National Bank governor Miroslav Singer will participate in a panel discussion in the Czech Republic.

St Louis Federal Reserve president James Bullard will speak on the local economy and monetary policy in the US.

Tuesday sees International Monetary Fund economic counsellor Olivier Blanchard address a press conference on the global economic outlook

The IMF Fiscal Affairs Department will talk to the press on its Fiscal Monitor Report.

Senior economic officials from the Association of South East Asian Nations will meet.

On Wednesday, the B20 and G20 will hold a conference on anti-corruption.

ECB executive board member Jos Manuel Gonzalez Paramo will speak at the ECB Statistics Conference.

On Thursday, Suncorp group chief executive officer John Nesbitt will speak at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Brisbane.

IMF chief Christina Lagarde will host a news conference.

Deputy finance ministers from the G20 countries will also hold a meeting.

Friday brings a speech from Masters chief executive officer Din Stallings, at an AMCHAM business briefing in Melbourne.

Elsewhere, The IMF and World Bank will kick off their Spring 2012 meetings, and the three-day World Investment Forum will begin in Qatar.

The thirteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development will also be held in Qatar.

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