THE WEEK AHEAD

In the coming week, the RBA will make its decision on interest rates for August and News Corp will report its fourth-quarter results.

The week ahead will cover some broad ground, spearheaded by the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) all-important decision on interest rates for August. Company activity heats up, with a variety of reports scheduled, including News Corp’s fourth-quarter results and first-half results for Rio Tinto and AXA Asia Pacific Holdings. There will also be a rash of wide-ranging local economic data, including retail trade and building approvals, international trade data for June and ANZ job advertisement figures. Overseas, the UK will release its gauge of nation-wide consumer confidence, while the US will have a close eye on manufacturing data, non-farm payrolls and personal income figures.

RBA

On Tuesday, the RBA will hold its board meeting to decide interest rates for August. There is an overwhelming consensus from economists that rates are going nowhere in the short term, after the Australian Bureau of Statistics' measure of inflation, the consumer price index (CPI), rose by a lower-than-expected 0.6 per cent in the June quarter, taking the annual rate to 3.1 per cent.

On Friday, the RBA will flesh out the background on its approach to the official cash rate setting, with its statement on monetary policy.

Local Data

On Monday, banks will be closed in some states due to the August Bank Holiday.

Also, the Australian Industry Group/PricewaterhouseCoopers (AiG/PWC) manufacturing index and TD Securities inflation data for July will be released. The TD figure follows the recent release of the CPI.

On Tuesday, the ABS will release retail trade data for June, as well as building approvals. Economists expect the latter to show that new activity has cooled significantly.

Also on Tuesday, ANZ will release its job advertisement figures for June, then AiG will issue its performance of services index for July.

Corporate

On Wednesday, we'll get a glimpse of the busy August reporting season, which is just around the corner.

Things kick off with AXA Asia Pacific’s first-half results, and analysts are expecting an 8.9 per cent drop in NPAT down to $238 million, compared with $261.2 million for the same period last year.

West Australian Newspaper Holdings will also release its full-year results, with analysts tipping a 1.4 per cent increase in NPAT to $98.4 million, up from $97.1 million in 2009.

Fellow publishing company News Corp will announce its fourth quarter results, which should show a drop in NPAT of 6.8 per cent to $US478.4 million, down from $US513.1 million in the prior corresponding period.

On Thursday, Rio Tinto will release its first-half results, and analysts see NPAT surging to $US5.01 billion, up from $US1.76 billion previously.

Tabcorp Holdings will then issue its full-year results, and analysts expect a 6 per cent fall to $466.3 million, down from $469.2 million.

On Friday, ResMed Incorporated will release its full-year results, and analysts say things should improve to the tune of 26.6 per cent to $US185.4 million, up from $US146.4 million last year.

International

Kicking off international data in the week ahead will be US ISM manufacturing figures for July, due on Monday. Economists expect a reading of about 55.0, which is still in expansion territory.

On Tuesday, the US will put out its monthly ABC/Washington Post measure of consumer confidence.

This will be followed by US personal income figures for June, which are tipped to lift 0.3 per cent, with spending up 0.2 per cent.

Also on Tuesday, the EU will release its producer price index for June and the UK will release its measure of nation-wide consumer confidence for July.

US ISM services data for July will come out on Wednesday, and economists expect little change on the 53.8 June reading.

On Wednesday, the EU will release retail sales figures for June.

On Thursday, the Bank of England will make its next decision on interest rates, with policy makers in no rush to move rates above 0.5 per cent.

In the US on Friday, private sector payrolls for July are tipped to have lifted by 90,000.

Finally on Friday, Germany reveals its industrial production figures for June.

Rounding off

Running from Monday to Wednesday will be the three-day "diggers and dealers” mining and banking conference in WA. This annual mining conference will include presentations from listed mining and exploration companies, as well as exhibitions from the mining, exploration and services sectors.

On Tuesday, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) will host a range of speakers, headed by ACTU president Gerardine Kearney, who will talk about the launch of the Australian Work Life Index 2010, which indicates who wants to work more or work less. She will discuss what the implications for the "workforce of the future” will be.

On Wednesday, CEDA will host GE Australia and New Zealand chief executive Steve Sargent to discuss technology, innovation and the environment.

Wesfarmers managing director Richard Goyder will also address the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia (AMCHAM) in Perth.

On Thursday, McDonald’s Australia chief operating officer Helen Farquhar will address a business briefing in Melbourne for AMCHAM.

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