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Australia

Monday March 9 – ANZ job advertisements (February) – Job ads have lifted for eight months

Tuesday March 10 – NAB business survey (February) – Business confidence is subdued

Wednesday March 11 – Monthly consumer confidence (March) – Highlights best place for savings

Wednesday March 11 – Housing finance (January) – A 4.5% fall in loans is tipped

Thursday March 12 – Credit & debit card lending (January) – Data from Reserve Bank

Thursday March 12 – Employment/unemployment (February) – An 18,000 lift in jobs is expected

Friday March 13 – Lending finance (January) – Business, personal, housing & lease loans

Overseas

Sunday March 8 – China Trade (February) – A surplus of US$60 billion was posted in January

Tuesday March 10 – China inflation (February) – Consumer & producer prices

Wednesday March 11 – China monthly data (February) – Retail trade, production and investment

Wednesday March 11 – US Federal Budget (February) – Budget deficit continues to narrow

Thursday March 12 – US Retail sales (February) – Ex auto sales tipped to have lifted 0.4%

Friday March 13 – US Producer prices (February) – Core prices may have lifted 0.1%

Friday March 13 – US Consumer sentiment (March) – A modest easing in is expected

Variety of indicators for release in Australia

– A bevy of economic indicators are scheduled for release in the coming week. Arguably the employment figures on Thursday are the stand-out, but all indicators are relevant in guiding the Reserve Bank’s deliberations on interest rate settings.

– The week kicks off on Monday when ANZ releases data on job advertisements for February. In the past the data was useful as a lead indicator on employment and the broader health of the job market. But some of the predictive power has been lost in recent years with budding job seekers now using social media, company websites and employment agencies more often to find positions. Still, job ads have risen for the past eight months, giving some sense that the job market is improving.

– Also on Monday, holidays are observed in ACT, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

– On Tuesday the NAB business survey is released. The Reserve Bank has been a vocal critic of Corporate Australia, believing that companies should be less conservative, and instead lift spending, invest and employ rather than hoarding cash. So the NAB survey will be watched for signs of improvement in business conditions and confidence.

– Also on Tuesday weekly data on consumer confidence is released. This will be the first survey to show how consumers have reacted to the Reserve Bank decision to leave rate settings unchanged in March.

– On Wednesday, data on home loans (housing finance commitments) for the month of January is issued. The Bankers Association survey suggests that new loans for owner occupation (loans for people building or buying homes to live in) may have fallen 4.5 per cent in January. But the value of loans (investors and owner occupiers) may have eased only by 1 per cent in the month.

– Also on Wednesday the Westpac-Melbourne Institute monthly survey of consumer confidence is released. This survey is now more a check on the weekly survey. But the survey is also useful each quarter for the special survey question on the wisest places to put new savings. At present Banks and Real Estate are favoured as the best places to put your money.

– On Thursday the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases the February job market data. The ABS data has been criticised in recent months, but as always the trend data is best to watch as it smooths volatile monthly figures. We expect that jobs lifted by 18,000 in February after falling by 12,000 in January. And the jobless rate may have eased from 6.4 per cent to 6.3 per cent.

 

– Also on Thursday, the Reserve Bank releases January data on credit and debit card lending. Consumers are using credit cards more often but paying off outstanding balances by the due date. And on Friday, broader lending finance data is issued, covering personal, business, housing and lease loans.

China economic data for February

– Chinese New Year holidays are now a distant memory. The focus now is on the monthly download of economic data.

– The week begins on Sunday when Chinese trade data for February is released. The trade surplus soared to US$60 billion in January, largely because of a slowdown in imports.

– The procession of Chinese economic statistics continues on Tuesday with inflation data – producer and consumer prices. Inflation is low with consumer prices only up 0.8 per cent on a year ago. And on Wednesday, data on retail sales, production and investment is released. Investors will be watching for continued evidence of a transition from production to household spending.

– In the US, the market-moving economic data is not released until later in the week. On Monday, the employment trends index is released while on Tuesday the JOLTS series on job openings is issued together with wholesale sales & inventories, weekly chain store sales figures and the NFIB survey of small business optimism.

– And rounding off the first half of the week, on Wednesday the monthly data on the Federal Budget is issued together with the weekly report of mortgage finance commitments.

– On Thursday, the ‘top shelf’ indicators finally appear on the data calendar. February figures on retail sales are issued together with the usual weekly data on claims for unemployment insurance as well as data on export and import prices and business inventories. Economists expect that sales rebounded by 0.5 per cent after a 0.8 per cent decline – a decline driven by lower gasoline prices. Excluding autos, sales may have lifted by 0.4 per cent.

– And on Friday, data on business inflation (producer price index or PPI) is issued together with consumer sentiment. The core PPI measure may have lifted 0.1 per cent in February after a 0.1 per cent fall in January. And consumer sentiment may have moderated further from 11 year highs, dropping from 95.4 to 94.5 in February.

Sharemarket, interest rates, currencies & commodities

– Longer-term bond yields are a useful guide on economic conditions, especially inflation. Clearly a main concern for an investor looking to squirrel money away for a long period is the potential for value to be eroded by inflation.

– On February 3, 10-year bond yields hit a generational low of 2.39 per cent (lowest since the 1950s), but have since lifted to 2.57 per cent. But whichever way you cut it, financial markets believe low inflation is here to stay.

Craig James, Chief Economist, CommSec

Twitter: @CommSec