THE WEEK AHEAD

RBA meeting minutes headline busy week for data, economic indicators; European data to come into spotlight amid political turmoil.

The week ahead will be chock–full of key economic data and surveys that come at a time when Labor's federal budget and the rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) have put the domestic economic outlook into the spotlight.

Offshore political turmoil in Europe will put additional scrutiny on economic data coming from that region through the week.

Headlining domestic economic news will be the release of minutes from the RBA's board meeting in early May – where it decided to cut the cash rate by 50 basis points – which will be picked-apart for a reading of the road ahead, both for interest rates and the broader economic outlook.

Overseas, the European Union, Germany and Japan will all release GDP figures, while in the United States, the release of the consumer price index will be one among several key data releases scheduled for the week.

It will be a quiet week for corporate earnings reports, but a number of companies, including Coca–Cola Amatil, Westfield Holdings and Ivanhoe Australia, will be holdings AGMs.

RBA

The RBA will release minutes from its early May board meeting where it cut the official cash rate 50 basis points to 3.75 per cent. The RBA move beat the market consensus of a 25 basis point reduction, which will have economists, investors and business leaders paying close attention to the minutes for a closer reading on the road ahead for rates.

The release of Labor's federal budget has added an additional later of intrigue to the outlook for rates, with Treasurer Wayne Swan saying that the federal budget surplus would clear the way for the RBA to introduce further cuts.

"Surpluses that provide a buffer against global uncertainty, and continue to give the [RBA] room to cut interest rates for families like it did last week," Mr Swan said.

In the minutes of its April 3 board meeting, released on April 17, the RBA acknowledged global growth was expected at below trend pace in 2012 because of economic weakness in Europe and slowing growth in China.

"However, growth in Australia's major trading partners, weighted by shares of merchandise exports from Australia, was expected to be around average in 2012," the minutes said.

The RBA's cut came after the March quarter headline annual inflation rate was at a very low 1.6 per cent. If inflation remains within the RBA's two to three per cent target range the central bank will have room to make further cuts to the cash rate.

Local news

A robust list of data set to be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will dominate headlines this week.

Monday sees ABS housing finance data for March. Analysts are tipping the figures to show that home loan approvals fell by 2.0 per cent. Home loan approvals fell 2.5 per cent in February.

Tuesday will be quiet, at least in terms of scheduled data releases.

Wednesday, the ABS will release lending finance data for March. In February, total personal finance commitments fell by 3.8 per cent to $7.187 billion, which was down from $7.470 billion in January. The ABS will also release new motor vehicle sales data for April. In March, new motor vehicle sales in Australia rose four per cent, to 89,694 vehicles, which was up from 86,203 in February. Also, the ABS will release its labour price index for the March quarter, which analysts predicting that total hourly rates of pay will have risen 0.8 per cent. In the December quarter, total hourly rates of pay, excluding bonuses, rose 0.9 per cent. Data from the ABS on international merchandise imports in April will also be released Wednesday, with March figures showing that imports of goods rose $2.185 billion, or 11 per cent, to $21.998 billion that month. The Australian Office of Financial Management will issue treasury bonds on Wednesday, with a tender for the issue of $700 million of the April 2023 bond line is planned. Lastly, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute Survey of Consumer Sentiment will be released on Wednesday.

Thursday, the ABS will release data on average weekly time earnings (AWOTE) for the three months to February. In the three months to November, ABS figures showed that average weekly ordinary time earnings (AWOTE) for adult full–time employees rose 0.5 per cent.

Friday, no major data is expected to be released.

Corporate

It will be a busy week for annual general meetings.

On Monday, Incitec Pivot Ltd and DuluxGroup Ltd will each release their first–half results. Meanwhile, Kalgoorlie Mining Company Ltd, Ampella Mining Ltd, CMI Ltd, Cortona Resources Ltd and Jupiter Energy Ltd will each hold general meetings.

On Tuesday, Coca–Cola Amatil Ltd, Coalbank Ltd and Movarise Renewable Resources will each hold annual general meetings.

Wednesday will see Westfield Holdings Ltd, AP Eagers LTd, Global Resources Corporation, OGL Resources Ltd, Vita Life Sciences Ltd and Energi Ltd hold general meetings, while CSR Ltd will release its full–year results.

On Thursday, Highlands Pacific Ltd will hold its annual general meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. In Australia, Adelaide Brighton Ltd, Roc Oil Company Ltd, Sphere Minerals Ltd, Ivanhoe Australia Ltd, Rex Minerals Ltd and Anaeco Ltd will hold general meetings.

To round out the week, on Friday, the following companies will hold general meetings: STW Communications Group Ltd, Cic Australia Ltd, Crossland Uranium Mines Ltd, El Dore Mining Corporation Ltd, Incremental Oil and Gas Ltd, Lindian Resources Ltd, ORH Ltd, Oriental Technologies Investment Ltd, PanAust Ltd, Pioneer Resources Ltd, Prana Biotechnology Ltd, Stone Resources Australia Ltd, Adantage Goldfields Ltd, Ventnor Resources Ltd and Wildhorse Energy Ltd.

Offshore

It will be a busy week for global data, with statistics scheduled to be released in Europe, the United States and Japan expected to come under particular scrutiny for a reading on the economic outlook.

On Monday, Eurostat will release a reading of industrial production in Europe.

Tuesday, Germany will release GDP and wholesale price index figures, while the UK will release its goods trade balance for March and the European Union will release GDP figures. Elsewhere, in Japan, the government will release its April consumer confidence index and figures on machinery orders. In the United States, data will be released on the consumer price index, retail sales, business inventories and the housing market index.

On Wednesday, the UK government will release figures on average earnings (excluding bonus) for the first three months of 2012, as well as unemployment figures. The Bank of England will also release its quarterly inflation report. The European Union will release trade balance figures for March. It will be yet another busy day for US data, with data on mortgage applications, building permits, housing starts, industrial production and minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee set to be released. Canada will release data on manufacturing shipments. Elsewhere, New Zealand will issue data on its producer price index and Japan will release GDP first quarter data.

Thursday will see Japan release data on industrial production, while the US government will issue figures on initial and continuing jobless claims, as well as the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Survey.

To finish off the week, Friday will see the release of producer price index figures in Germany, Canada will release a reading of its consumer price index and in the United States the American Petroleum Institute will release its monthly report.

Wrapping up

On Monday, RBA deputy governor Philip Lowe will deliver a speech to the ADC Future Summit 2012 in Melbourne.

On Tuesday, Secretary to the Treasury Martin Parkinson will deliver a post–budget address to Australian Business Economists, which will be closely watched for follow-up comments to Labor's federal budget and the political and business response to it.

Internationally, also on Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, the main decision-making body of the Council of the European Union, comprising finance ministers from the 27 European Union member states, will meet.

On Thursday, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, James Bullard, will also deliver a speech that will be closely watched.

On Friday, ANZ Banking Group chief executive Mike Smith will give a speech to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle on "Australia in the Asian Century: A Business Perspective".

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