THE WEEK AHEAD

Results from BHP Billiton, Qantas, Woodside and Woolworths will join Reserve Bank minutes in the spotlight.

The week ahead is dominated by the continuing earnings season and the release of the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s last policy meeting.

Companies reporting this week include BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum, Qantas Airways and Woolworths.

BlueScope Steel, Fairfax Media, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and Coca-Cola will also release results.

A thin week in local news brings just housing affordability data and skilled vacancy figures.

Offshore, jobless claims data and new home sales figures are due in the United States.

In the United Kingdom, second-quarter gross domestic product data will be released.

RBA

The Reserve Bank of Australia will release the minutes of its last policy meeting on Tuesday, where the bank left the official cash rate on hold for the second consecutive time.

Investors will watch closely, after the bank said monetary policy was easier than it was for most of 2011, with interest rates for borrowers a little below their medium-term averages, on announcing its decision.

Some analysts still have another rate cut pencilled in for towards the end of the year.

Earlier this month, the RBA said in its statement on monetary policy that growth in the Australian economy for 2012 had been better than expected, but problems in the eurozone threatened to crash the party.

On Friday, RBA governor Glenn Stevens will appear before the House of Representatives standing committee on economics at Parliament House in Canberra.

Local news

A quiet week for the Australian Bureau of Statistics means thin pickings for local economic news.

On Tuesday, the Housing Industry Association will release its housing affordability index for the second quarter.

Wednesday sees the Department of Workplace and Employment Relations release its skilled vacancies index for July.

Elsewhere, the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute leading index is set for release.

Corporate

A gargantuan week in company news brings wall-to-wall earnings results, with some of the biggest names on the ASX giving up the goods.

On Monday, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank will release full year results. Goldman Sachs expects the group will post a 4.4 per cent fall in cash profit to $321.5 million.

BlueScope Steel will also report, and is tipped to post an annual loss of $118.4 million, pre non-recurring items.

MacMahon Holdings, Challenger Financial Services Group, Imdex and Consolidated Media Holdings will also report.

Quarterly production figures are due from Sydney Airport.

Both Telstra and Commonwealth Bank of Australia will trade ex-dividend on Monday.

Tuesday sees full-year results released by Seven West Media. The media group is tipped to post a 5.5 per cent lift in underlying profit to $243.4 million.

Amcor, Arrium, Sonic Healthcare, Boom Logistics, Mirvac Group, Monadelphous and Charter Hall Real Estate Investment Trust are also expected to report.

Interim results are due from Oil Search. Goldman Sachs economists are predicting the company to post a 17.6 per cent fall in underlying profit to $US94.3 million.

Elsewhere, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp will hold its annual general meeting.

Overseas, Dell Inc will release second quarter earnings figures.

Wednesday brings full-year results from market giant BHP Billiton. The group is expected to post a net profit of $16.61 billion, a 29.8 per cent fall on the previous corresponding period.

Reports are also expected from Suncorp-Metway, Asciano, APA Group, Biota, Pacific Brands, CSL and Clough.

Super Retail Group, Trade Me, Seek, Fletcher Building, Wotif, Macarthur Coal, AGL, Boral and The Reject Shop will make the day even busier.

Interim figures are due from Woodside Petroleum Corporation, which is expected to post a 3.3 per cent rise in net profit to $US869.2 million.

Coca-Cola Amatil will also report half-year results, while Santos will trade ex-dividend.

Offshore, Hewlett Packard will release its third-quarter earnings.

Thursday will see full-year results released by Qantas Airways. The carrier is expected to post pre-tax earnings of $59.9 million, an 89.1 per cent drop on last year’s result, according to Goldman Sachs.

Insurance Australia Group will also report, and is tipped to post a jump in net profit to $527 million.

Reports from Origin Energy, Tatts Group, QR National, Fairfax Media, Ardent Leisure and FKP Property Group are also on tap.

Paperlinx, Ramsay Health Care, Cabcharge, Breville Group, IOOF Holdings numbers are also awaited.

Interim figures are awaited from Ausenco, Illuka Resources, MAp and Sydney Airport.

PanAust will release quarterly production figures, while Bendigo and Adelaide Bank will trade ex-dividend.

On Friday, Woolworths mixes it up by reporting annual financial results. Goldman Sachs analysts expect the retail giant to post a net profit of $2.161 billion, just 1.7 per cent higher than last year’s figure.

Fortescue Metals Group will also report. The iron ore miner’s normalised net profit is expected to fall by 16.5 per cent to $US1.3636 billion.

Results from Billabong International Holdings, Whitehaven Coal, Atlas Iron, Crown and Telecom Corporation of New Zealand bring what will be a merciful end to the week.

Offshore

In overseas news, Sunday brings Rightmove House Price Index data from the United Kingdom.

Tuesday sees public sector net borrowing data for July released in the UK.

In the US on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its last monthly policy meeting.

Existing home sales data for July will also be released. Sales are tipped by analysts to have risen 3 per cent in the month.

Elsewhere, the weekly Energy Information Administration’s petroleum status report is due.

On Thursday, US jobless claims data and new home sales figures for July are on tap. Experts expect the data to show a 4.3 per cent lift in sales.

Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers index for August is also due.

Eurozone flash consumer sentiment figures will also be released.

Friday brings durable goods orders data for July in the US.

In the UK, second quarter GDP data will be released. Economists expect the figures to show a 1.3 per cent increase.

Wrapping up

Rounding off the week, Tuesday brings a speech from Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart on the US economic outlook.

Wednesday sees LinFox chief executive officer Michael Byrne speak at a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia event in Sydney.

Elsewhere, Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald will address a separate CEDA event in Perth.

Telstra Corporation Ltd chief information officer Patrick Eltridge will be the guest speak at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia business briefing in Melbourne.

ING Direct chief executive officer Vaughn Richtor will speak at a separate AMCHAM event in Sydney.

In Europe, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet with Eurogroup president Jean Claude Junker to discuss the next Greek loan tranche of €31.5 billion.

Elsewhere, Russia will become the World Trade Organisation's 156th member of the Trade Rules Club.

On Thursday, Australia Post chairman David Mortimer will speak at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Sydney.

Mr Samaras will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the Greek loan.

On Friday, Bank of Melbourne chief executive officer Scott Tanner will address an AMCHAM event in Melbourne.

Toro Energy managing director Greg Hall will address an AMCHAM event in Adelaide.

Mr Samaras will wrap up a busy week at a meeting with French president Franois Hollande.