THE WEEK AHEAD

Ten releases first-half earnings, while construction, jobs ad and consumer and business sentiment figures highlight the week's economic news.

Local data will be the focus this week, with a smorgasbord of official and private releases due out.

March’s unemployment figures will be of great note, but investors will also be keeping a keen eye on NAB’s monthly survey of business confidence and ANZ Bank’s latest job advertisements read.

Offshore, the latest trade balance numbers out of China and the minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s March board meeting will attract interest.

Other highlights will include a superannuation debate at the National Press Club and dual engagements from US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

Reserve Bank

After holding the official cash rate at 3 per cent this week, there isn’t much news expected out of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

On Wednesday, Reserve Bank assistant governor (economics) Christopher Kent will address the Bloomberg Australia Economic Summit in Sydney in the wake of the bank's decision to keep the official cash rate on hold at 3 per cent on Tuesday. Following comments from Governor Glenn Stevens regarding the abating global downside risks and on-target inflation, Mr Kent’s remarks will be closely scrutinised for any hints of easing bias.

Local

There’s a glut of local news due despite only one major release scheduled from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Monday will bring the Australian Industry Group’s March performance of construction index, while ANZ is also due to unveil its monthly read on job advertisements.

On Tuesday, NAB will release its survey of business confidence and business conditions for March.

Wednesday sees the Westpac/Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index for April.

On Thursday, the March read on labour force data is due out from the ABS. Economists expect the unemployment rate will hold steady at 5.4 per cent, while a modest 5000 jobs will have been created.

Elsewhere, the Melbourne Institute/Westpac Leading Index of Economic Activity is set to be released.

Corporate

In another quiet week for scheduled company news, Ten Network’s first-half earnings results will be the focus.

Monday is the date of record for Southern Cross Media shareholders.

On Tuesday, Ten Network will release its first-half earnings results. Bloomberg is expecting the media company to unveil a huge 89.8 per cent drop in net adjusted profit.

Wednesday will see Southern Gold, Energy Resources of Australia and Tasmania Mines hold their annual general meetings.

Thursday is the date payable for both Rio Tinto and Webjet, while Bora Bora Resources will hold an extraordinary general meeting.

Offshore

China will be the overseas focus this week with trade balance data for March as well as the latest reads on consumer and producer prices due out.

On Monday, Japan will unveil its current account balance for February, while the United Kingdom will lift the lid on its trade balance for the month.

Tuesday will deliver the latest producer price index and consumer price index reads out of China. The PPI is forecast to have fallen 1.9 per cent in March, while the CPI is tipped to have risen by 2.5 per cent.

Elsewhere, Germany will unveil its trade balance for February.

On Wednesday, China’s trade balance for March will be unveiled. Bloomberg forecasts a surplus of $US15.4 billion, after last month’s $US15.25 billion surplus.

In the US, Treasury will release its monthly budget.

Thursday will see the US Federal Reserve release the minutes of its March board meeting. Elsewhere in the US, the March import price index is expected with Bloomberg forecasting a modest decline of 0.1 per cent.

On Friday, two important pieces of data are set for release in the US. The producer price index for March is expected to show a slight lift of 0.1 per cent, while the latest read on retail sales is also due.

Elsewhere, University of Michigan April survey of confidence will be released, as will business inventories data for February.

Wrapping up

On Monday, Ann Summers will speak at a women in leadership luncheon in Sydney, sponsored by the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia.

Overseas, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, will address the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta financial markets conference titled ‘Maintaining Financial Stability: Holding a Tiger by the Tail’.

On Tuesday, the Australian Institute of Company Directors will hold a fellows lunch at which Alan Cameron, chairman of the ASX Corporate Governance Council; Ilana Atlas, Suncorp director; and Australia Post director Penny Bingham Hall will be part of the panel.

On Wednesday, John Brogden, head of the Financial Services Council, and Australian Institute executive director Dr Richard Dennis will take part in a debate on superannuation tax at the National Press Club.

Thursday will see BHP Billiton chairman Jacques Nasser address an Australian British Chamber of Commerce lunch entitled ‘Securing Australia’s future – what role will resources play?’

Offshore, US Fed chairman Bernanke is booked for a second engagement, this time he will speak before the ‘Resilience and Rebuilding for Low-Income Communities’ conference in Washington.

On Friday, chief executive officer and country head of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Craig Drummond, will deliver a business briefing for the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, in Melbourne.