Craig James – Chief Economist – CommSec

Australian labour market in focus
·       The economic data-fest continues. There are around eight economic events of note in Australia in the coming week. In China, the October activity data is released. And in the US there are close to a dozen indicators to analyse.
·       The week kicks off in Australia on Monday when the Reserve Bank releases the latest data on credit and debit card lending. Cards are being used more often. But savvy customers are choosing to pay off credit cards by the due date.
·       Also on Monday the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases broader lending finance data, covering business, personal, housing and lease loans.
·       On Tuesday the weekly consumer confidence survey is issued by ANZ and Roy Morgan. Confidence levels remain healthy, particularly when it comes to family finances – not just the current position of finances but consumer expectations for finances over the next year.
·       And the Reserve Bank also features on Tuesday with the release of the minutes from the November 1 Board meeting. It is unlikely that the minutes will contain anything significantly new. The statement following the no-change decision was very comprehensive, in fact it was amongst the longest statements in recent history. In addition investors were able to digest the latest economic and growth forecasts in the release of Statement of Monetary Policy last week.
·       And probably of more interest to analysts and investors on Tuesday will be the speech by the Reserve Bank Governor Lowe. The Governor is delivering a speech at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) annual dinner in Melbourne.
·       On Wednesday the main measure of wages is released by the ABS – the wage price index. While many remark at the ‘extraordinary’ situation of the lowest wage growth on record, it is still the fact that wage growth outpaces the low inflation reading. We tip wage growth of 0.5 per cent in the quarter and 2 per cent growth over the year – still well ahead of the 1.3 per cent annual growth of “headline” inflation.
·       Also on Wednesday, the ABS recasts the industry data on new vehicle sales. Motor vehicle sales are currently just shy of record highs.
·       On Thursday, the ABS releases the October employment data. In recent months unemployment has been more mixed across the nation. In NSW unemployment fell to 4.9 per cent in September – the lowest result in four years. At the other end of the spectrum, unemployment in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia held well above 6 per cent. We tip job growth of around 20,000 in the month and a steady 5.6 per cent jobless rate.
Overseas: US retail sales & inflation to dominate. China data also in the spotlight
·       In the coming week in the US, various ‘top shelf’ indicators are expected like consumer prices and retail sales. But investor focus will also centre on the key economic indicators released in China.
·       The week kicks off in China on Monday when key ‘top shelf’ indicators are issued, namely retail sales, production and investment. Annual growth rates have seemingly found a base and are showing encouraging signs of lifting. In fact Chinese retail activity is growing at the fastest pace in nine months, while manufacturing activity is expanding at fastest pace in two years. A strong Chinese economy has been a key driver of the recent lift in commodity prices and the rebound in resource stocks over the last few months.
·       In the US on Tuesday, there are four indicators of note – retail sales, the Empire State manufacturing index, import price index and business inventories. The key interest will be in the retail sales data which is expected to lift by 0.5 per cent. Excluding autos and gas sales may have lifted by a more sedate 0.3 per cent.
·       On Wednesday, industrial production, the NAHB housing market index and producer prices are all slated for release in the US together with the regular weekly data on home purchase and refinancing. The housing sector remains the backbone of the US economy. Homebuilder sentiment should hold at a reading of around 62, while production may have lifted just 0.2 per cent in October.
·       And on Thursday in the US, housing starts and consumer prices will be released. Most interest will be on the inflation data given the importance to the timing of a December US rate hike. The “core” reading of consumer prices (excludes food and energy) may have risen 0.2 per cent in October to stand 2.2 per cent higher over the year – a result that should ensure that the Federal Reserve does lift rates in December. For the record, housing starts may have rebounded by 11 per cent after sliding by 9 per cent in October. 
·       Also on Thursday, the weekly US figures on claims for unemployment insurance are released together with the Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey. The “Philly Fed” index is tipped to ease from +9.0 to +7.0 in November
·       On Friday, the US leading indicators index is released with a 0.1 per cent gain expected in October.
·       In China on Friday, data on home prices is released. >> BACK TO THE NEWSLETTER: Click here to read other articles from this week’s newsletter