THE WEEK AHEAD

In the absence of key data releases and corporate news, updates from the Reserve Bank of Australia will take centre stage this week.

The central bank will release the minutes from its March board meeting, while three of its top-level executives are slated to give public addresses.

The latest reads on lending finance and new car sales are the highlights from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while on the corporate front, David Jones and Brickworks are due to release their half-yearly earnings reports.

Offshore, the United States will be the focus with a decision due on interest rates, and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke set to front the media.

Reserve Bank

On Tuesday, the central bank will release the minutes from its March board meeting. The decision to keep the official cash rate on hold at 3 per cent caught a few off guard at the time, and the accompanying statement was widely viewed as a repeat of February’s. As such, very few surprises are expected, though punters will scour for any hints at further easing.

Elsewhere, assistant governor Guy Debelle will discuss recent trends in Australian debt markets at the KangaNews DCM Summit in Sydney, while deputy governor Philip Lowe will address the Australian Industry Group 13th Annual Economics Forum, also in Sydney.

On Thursday, the central bank is also slated to release its quarterly bulletin for the three months to March.

Local news

It’s a relatively light week for the ABS with only three major releases scheduled.

Monday will see the ABS release lending finance for the month of January, as well as new car sales for February.

On Wednesday, the ABS will release the latest read on imports of goods (merchandise imports), while the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations skilled vacancy report is also due and will contain the latest read on internet job ads.

Elsewhere the latest Melbourne Institute/Westpac leading index of economic activity, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months in the future, is due.

Thursday will see the ABS release more detailed monthly and quarterly figures on the state of the job market.

Elsewhere, the CBA/HIA housing affordability index for the fourth quarter is expected.

Corporate

Several high-profile companies will release their most recent profit reports this week, as the tail end of earnings season drags on.

On Wednesday, David Jones will release its earnings report for the first half. Bloomberg analysts are expecting the retailer to take a small hit to net adjusted income to report a figure around $98.614 million.

TPG Telecom will release its half-yearly earnings as well, with the general forecast for a 15 per cent lift in net adjusted income to $131.615 million.

Thursday will bring Brickworks' first-half report and all eyes will be on whether the group can live up to the rise in H1 earnings the company itself flagged in February. The building products maker said it expected the sale of a parcel of land in western Sydney it part owns with Goodman Group to buoy the results of its land and development business. Bloomberg analysts however are tipping a decline in net adjusted income of around 6.8 per cent to $92.6 million.

Elsewhere, Premier Investments will unveil its H1 earnings, with the forecast for a modest rise in net adjusted income to $70.246 million. OrotonGroup is also due to report.

On Friday, Washington H Soul & Pattinson is slated to unveil its first-half results, with the consensus forecast tipping a 21 per cent lift in net adjusted income to $187 million.

Overseas

It will be another busy week for economic data across the globe, with several key announcements due from the United States Federal Reserve.

Monday will bring the January trade balance out of the EU, as well as the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index for March in the United States. Economists are expecting a small one point lift in the index from 46 to 47.

On Tuesday, the US Census Bureau will release the latest reads on housing starts and building permits. Economists expect a rise of 3 per cent in February.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the consumer price index for February is due out.

Wednesday will see a slew of activity from the Federal Reserve in the US. Its policy-making arm, the Federal Open Market Committee will deliver the latest decision on interest rates, while quarterly economic forecasts are also expected. Following these announcements, Fed Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a press conference.

Elsewhere, the Bank of England will release the minutes from its most recent meeting.

Thursday will deliver the latest reads on a trio of flash manufacturing purchasing managers’ indices; PMI data is due out of the US, China and the eurozone.

In the UK, retail sales for February are also due out.

Back in America, existing house sales for February will be released, with a 1.5 per cent lift expected in the month. The US leading index for February is also due out and is forecast to increase by 0.3 per cent.

Elsewhere, Japan’s trade balance for February will be unveiled.

Wrapping up

On Monday, Origin Energy chief executive Grant King will speak at part one of the Energy Series in Sydney, focusing on power prices, regulation and investment.

Tuesday will see chief executive of the Greater Building Society Don Magin and managing director of Hunter Water Corporation, Kim Wood, address a briefing in Newcastle regarding digital strategy and the board.

Elsewhere, Professor Ian Harper, partner at Deloiite Access Economics, will address the Ballarat Leaders’ Luncheon on the future of directorship.

Wednesday will see John Guscic, managing director of Webjet address an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia lunch in Sydney.

On Friday, RBA assistant governor Malcolm Edey will be on the panel at the Australian Centre for Financial Studies and Financial Services Institute of Australasia Leadership Luncheon Series in Melbourne.