THE WEEK AHEAD

Reserve Bank minutes as well as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton production reports highlight the domestic calendar, while Chinese GDP will be closely watched.

Corporate news muscles its way back into the spotlight this week, with quarterly updates due from resources companies including Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, and third quarter sales figures from Wesfarmers.

On the national front, the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s April board meeting will be released while the Australian Bureau of Statistics will publish housing finance and new car sales.

Offshore, China will release its latest GDP figure, Japan its March trade balance while housing starts out of the US will also be closely watched.

In speeches, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke book-ends the week with a pair of engagements while locally Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd’s remarks will also be of note.

Reserve Bank

On Tuesday, the minutes of the board’s March meeting will be released. At the meeting, the board held the official cash rate at 3 per cent, as had been widely expected, so investors will relish the chance to peek behind the Reserve Bank curtain.

Also on Tuesday, Reserve Bank assistant governor Guy Debelle will address the Melbourne Institute's Public Economic Forum in Canberra. Debelle will deliver a speech entitled ‘Funding the Resources Investment Boom’.

Local

A mix of official and private data this week, with housing finance from the ABS and the NAB’s quarterly business survey the highlights.

On Monday, housing finance data for February is due out. The number of home loans granted is expected to rise 1.3 per cent.

Tuesday brings the latest reads on lending finance and new motor vehicle sales.

On Wednesday, Westpac will unveil its Leading Economic Index for February.

Thursday will see the National Australia Bank release its business confidence survey for the March quarter.

Corporate

After a few weeks in the wilderness following a chaotic earnings season, company news returns to the fore this week.

On Monday, PrimeAg will convene an extraordinary general meeting where shareholders will vote on the sale of the group’s property portfolio and water entitlements to TIAA-CREF Global Agriculture LLC. If approved, the sale is expected to net the group $125 million in cash.

Tuesday will see Rio Tinto’s first quarter operations review, complete with its latest sales and revenue figures for the three months to March.

On Wednesday it’s BHP Billiton’s turn with the other major miner set to unveil its third quarter production report.

On Thursday, Wesfarmers will unveil its sales results for the March quarter.

Elsewhere, Bank of Queensland will release its earnings report for the first half of fiscal 2013. Bloomberg analysts expect the lender to register a lift in net adjusted income of 0.68 per cent to $240.813 million.

Australian Pharmaceuticals Industries will release its interim results. Bloomberg expects a slip in net adjusted income of 22 per cent to $23.614 million.

Also due on Thursday are quarterly activities reports from Fortescue Metals Group and Woodside Petroleum. The reports will include sales and revenue figures for the March quarter.

Friday will see both Santos and Lynas deliver their quarterly activities report, and is also the date of record for CSL shareholders.

Offshore

Chinese data dominates the beginning of the week but the US and Japan will unveil major releases towards the week’s end.

Monday delivers a glut of Chinese data, starting with GDP for the first quarter. Bloomberg analysts expect the economy to have grown by 8 per cent.

Also out of the Asian powerhouse will be retail sales data for March, which is expected to have lifted 12.7 per cent, and industrial production for March, which is tipped to have risen 9.9 per cent.

On Tuesday, housing starts data for March is due out of the US, with Bloomberg expecting a lift of 1.7 per cent. The latest read on US industrial production is also expected.

In the United Kingdom, CPI for March will be unveiled.

Wednesday delivers the minutes of the Bank of England’s April policy meeting.

On Thursday, the US Federal Reserve will release its beige book and Japan will unveil its trade balance for March.

Friday will bring with it the release of the EU’s current account balance for February and the US leading indicators for March. Bloomberg analysts expect the latter will increase 0.1 per cent in the month.

Wrapping up

Monday will see United States Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke address the Atlanta Fed conference in Georgia.

On Tuesday, Telstra chairwoman Catherine Livingstone will address the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Leader’s Edge lunch in Darwin.

Elsewhere, Suncorp Group chairman Ziggy Switkowski will be part of a business lunch hosted by the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) entitled ‘The future of work: growth of services’.

Wednesday will see president of the Business Council of Australia Tony Shepherd address the National Press Club.

On Thursday, former Clough chairman Harold Clough will be the special guest at the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ fourth annual fellows dinner.

Meanwhile, Network Ten executive general manager Russel Howcroft will discuss the future of media in Australia at the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Leader’s Edge lunch in Brisbane and shadow minister for defence David Johnston will take part in an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia boardroom event.

While Friday will see Just Group chief executive officer Mark McInnes, eBay Australia managing director Deborah Sharkey and Australia Post executive GM retail services Christine Corbett on the panel of a Trans-Tasman Business Circle discussion of the outlook for retail in Melbourne.

Offshore, Fed chairman Bernanke will deliver his second engagement of the week – a speech to a community development conference in Washington.