By Craig James

Australia: Business survey & jobs in the frame

The highlight in the coming week is the monthly employment report. But there will be plenty of interest in the latest business survey and also the population figures.

The week kicks off on Tuesday with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releasing the September quarter Residential Property Price indexes. While the data on home prices is somewhat dated, other figures are provided including those on the number of homes, permitting estimates on the number of people per home.

But the indicator that will attract the most attention on Tuesday is the National Australia Bank business survey. Business conditions are the best in the 20-year history of the survey. At the same time business confidence levels are good, no doubt given the strength in profitability.

Also to be released on a busy Tuesday is data on lending finance. This is the broader measure of new lending, including personal, business, lease and home loans. 

And the Reserve Bank also issues its own lending figures on Tuesday – data on credit and debit card lending. The average outstanding balance on credit cards across Australia is near 9½ year lows.

The usual weekly measure of consumer sentiment from ANZ and Roy Morgan is also released on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, the monthly measure of consumer confidence is released from Westpac and the Melbourne Institute. The report is now primarily of interest as a check on the weekly survey. But each quarter there is a survey on the wisest places for new savings and this survey will be issued on Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, the Reserve Bank Governor, Assistant Governor and Head of Payments Policy all deliver speeches.

On Thursday the ABS releases the November job report. In October employment rose for the 13th straight month, up by 3,700 in October. And the unemployment rate fell from 5.5 per cent to 5.4 per cent – the lowest jobless rate since February 2013. CommSec expects that jobs rose by 20,000 in November with the jobless rate stable at 5.4 per cent.

Also on Thursday, the ABS releases the latest population figures (September quarter) as well as the October data on tourist arrivals and departures. Population is growing at a 1.6 per cent annual rate. 

And in terms of tourism, China has now firmly displaced New Zealand as the largest source of tourists to Australia.

Overseas. US Federal Reserve to lift rates? Chinese monthly data.

 The key event in the coming week is the US Federal Reserve meeting. And close behind is the release of key monthly Chinese economic activity data.

 In the US, the week kicks off on Monday with the release of the Employment Trends report and the JOLTS job openings series. The October data showed that demand for jobs remained strong with job openings of 6.1 million, near record highs.

 On Tuesday the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) issues the November small business survey while the monthly Federal Budget figures are also released. But the key data is producer prices (business inflation). If the core measure (excludes food and energy) lifts 0.3 per cent as expected after October’s 0.4 per cent gain then investors will speculate whether inflation is making a comeback.

The usual weekly data on chain store sales is also released on Tuesday.

The Federal Reserve meets over Tuesday and Wednesday with a quarter percent rate hike expected to be delivered on 6am on Thursday morning Sydney time. And then the speculation will begin on when, and to what extent, the Federal Reserve will lift rates in 2018.

 On Wednesday in the US the consumer price index for November is released. The annual rate for the core measure is 1.8 per cent, still below the Federal Reserve’s favoured area of 2 per cent. And that isn’t expected to change with a 0.2 per cent lift in the monthly measure of prices.

The usual weekly data on mortgage finance is also issued on Wednesday.

 On Thursday the spotlight shifts to the monthly activity data for China, covering retail sales, production and investment. While overall economic growth appears to have has slowed modestly, retail sales is still growing at a 10 per cent annual pace – amazing for the second largest economy on the globe.

In the US on Thursday, November figures on retail sales are released together with export and import prices. Economists tip a 0.3 per cent lift in spending in November after October’s 0.2 per cent gain. Excluding new autos (vehicles) sales may posted a stronger 0.6 per cent increase in November.

 The usual weekly data on new claims for unemployment insurance in the US is also issued on Thursday.

 Also on Thursday the “flash” Markit manufacturing readings are released in the US, Europe and Japan.

 On Friday in the US data on industrial production is expected with the New York Federal Reserve manufacturing index and net capital flows data. Production posted a strong 0.9 per cent increase in November but this reflected the recovery from the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.