RBA meeting & Statement on Monetary Policy the highlights 
CommSec Senior Economist Ryan Felsman previews the economic data scheduled for the week ahead including the Reserve Bank Board Meeting, the central bank’s Statement on Monetary Policy and US GDP data. 
Watch Video: https://youtu.be/5zSnzaqfQOo

Australia: The Reserve Bank is out of hibernation
• In the coming week, the Reserve Bank dominates the economic calendar following its summer hiatus. Top tier data releases include retail trade, international trade, building approvals and services sector gauges.
• The week kicks off on Monday when the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases its latest building approvals report. Residential approvals fell by 9.1 per cent in November to sit 32.8 per cent lower over the year. 
• Also on Monday, ANZ releases job advertisements data for January. Ads were flat in December, but are still up by 4.1 per cent over the year at 175,428 – just below 7-year highs of 178,879 ads.
• On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank Board meets for the first time this year, but no change in the official cash rate is expected.
• Also on ‘Super Tuesday’, a bevy of economic data is released including weekly consumer confidence, retail and international trade, new vehicle sales and services sector surveys.
• There were mixed reports about Christmas and post-Christmas spending especially in light of the impact from Black Friday online and grocery sales in November. But spending is projected to lift by around 0.7 per cent in the December quarter, supporting economic growth.
• On Wednesday, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe delivers a speech at the National Press Club in Sydney. 
• Also on Wednesday, the ABS issues its “Selected Cost of Living” indexes for the December quarter, detailing changes over time in the purchasing power of the after-tax incomes of Aussie households.
• On Friday the Reserve Bank releases its Statement of Monetary Policy. All eyes with be on the Board’s economic growth and inflation forecasts, given the weakening global economic backdrop, tighter credit conditions, falling home prices and the more uncertain operating environment for businesses. And the Board’s projections for unemployment and wages growth will come into sharper focus with the jobless rate hitting 7½-year lows of 5 per cent in November – a level previously estimated as ‘full employment’.  
Overseas: US economic growth and inflation data in focus
• In the absence of major data releases in China, investors will focus their attention on ‘top shelf’ US economic data releases after the re-opening of major US government agencies. 
• The week begins on Monday in the US with retail sales, factory orders and durable goods orders all scheduled for release. Large publicly-traded retailers such as Macy’s and Kohl’s provided disappointing sales updates recently. But e-commerce holiday season sales lifted by 16.5 per cent from a year earlier according to Adobe Analytics, signalling that overall retail sales were positive in December. An increase of 0.2 per cent is forecast. 
• Also on Monday, housing-related data is issued. Building permits, housing starts and new home sales feature.
• On Tuesday, weekly chain store sales data is issued along with international trade and the ISM non-manufacturing index. The US trade deficit is forecast to fall by US$1.5 billion to US$54 billion in December.
• On Wednesday, the delayed advance (flash) reading of US economic growth (GDP) is due. The annual GDP growth rate is forecast to decelerate from 3.4 per cent to 2.6 per cent in the December quarter. And the JOLTS job openings report is issued. The number of unfilled jobs in November fell to the lowest level since June, though openings still exceeded unemployed Americans. Weekly mortgage applications are also due.
• On Thursday, the weekly jobless claims data (claims for unemployment insurance), personal income spending and consumer credit data are all scheduled. Most interest will be in the US Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation – the core personal consumption expenditure deflator – which is expected to remain unchanged at an annual growth rate of 1.9 per cent in December – just below the central bank’s 2 per cent target.
• Also on Thursday, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks at the ‘Conversation with the Chairman: a Teacher Town Hall Meeting’ event hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte branch.
• On Friday, wholesale inventories data for December is scheduled.
Financial markets
• The Australian corporate reporting season shifts up a gear with around 40 companies scheduled to report their results during the first week of February. Earnings per share (EPS) growth of 5 per cent is forecast in financial year 2019.
• Companies reporting on Monday include Galaxy Resources. 
• On Tuesday: Navitas.
• On Wednesday: Dexus, Shopping Centres Australasia, BWP Trust, Cimic, Commonwealth Bank, Genworth Mortgage Group and Insurance Australia Group.
• On Thursday: AGL Energy, Downer EDI, Mirvac, Nick Scali and Newscorp.
• On Friday: REA Group and Paragon Care.
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