A raft of key economic indicators are due for release in Australia in the coming week including measures of lending and consumer confidence as well the monthly job data.

The week kicks off on Tuesday. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases estimates of new vehicles sales while the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence survey is also issued.

Each month the ABS has provided seasonally adjusted and trend estimates of the industry data on new vehicle sales. But the December data will be the last that the ABS will provide. Given that car sales are an important component of household spending, it will be hoped that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries will continue to publicly provide the vehicle sales data in original (or unadjusted) terms at a state and national level.

On Wednesday the ABS releases the November data on housing finance and the September quarter building activity figures. Meanwhile Westpac and the Melbourne Institute issue the January consumer confidence survey results.

Home lending continues to rise and we are tipping a 1 per cent rise in the number of new finance commitments by owner-occupiers (people who are buying or building homes to live in).

Meanwhile the building activity data will provide the latest estimates on dwelling commencements (starts). And while the consumer confidence data is important, it is more of a check on the more regular weekly estimates of consumer sentiment.

On Thursday the December jobs data is released. It’s probably fair to say that the jobs data has proven surprisingly strong in recent months. Over the year to November, 383,300 jobs were created, the biggest annual gain for over 12 years. At the same time the unemployment rate stands at 5.4 per cent, a 4½-year low and down from 5.8 per cent at the end of 2016.

We expect that another 20,000 jobs were created in December with the jobless rate steady at 5.4 per cent.

Also on Thursday the Housing Industry Association releases new home sales data.

And on Friday the ABS issues comprehensive lending figures as well as the Overseas Arrivals and Departures publication that includes short and longer-term tourist and immigration data.

The lending data covers business, personal, housing and lease loans. And much of the interest in the arrivals and departures data are estimates of Chinese tourist numbers which continue to set new highs.


In the US, most interest will be in production and housing data and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book survey. In China, the December quarter economic growth data will be issued with the December economic activity figures.

After observance of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday on Monday, the first piece of US economic data is issued on Tuesday with the release of the influential Empire State manufacturing survey.

On Wednesday a raft of US economic data is scheduled for release. Industrial production figures are issued with the housing market index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and financial flows data.

Production may have lifted 0.4 per cent in December after a more modest 0.2 per cent increase in November. And the NAHB survey of home builder sentiment hit an 18-year high in December. So there will be interest whether there was some consolidation in the result in January.

Also on Wednesday the Federal Reserve produces the Beige Book – a summary of economic conditions across Federal Reserve districts. The survey will assist policymakers in their decision on rates at the January 30/31 meeting.

On Thursday the focus shifts to China. The December quarter estimate of economic growth is issued together with data on production, sales and investment for the December month. The Chinese economy continues to defy the gloomsters, expanding at a 6.8 per cent rate in the year to September.

In the US on Thursday the December estimate of housing starts is released while the influential Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey is also issued together with the regular weekly estimate of new claims for unemployment insurance. Housing starts rose 3.3 per cent in November while single-family starts jumped 5.3 per cent to a 10-year high.

And on Friday the focus shifts to the first estimate of consumer sentiment in the 2018 year.


It is that time again when US companies release their quarterly earnings results – otherwise known as the profit-reporting season.

According to FactSet, S&P 500 companies (as a group) are expected to report a 10.5 per cent annual gain in earnings and 6.7 per cent lift in revenues. One complication is the recently-passed tax reform bill that will necessitate some companies reporting one-off charges to earnings or “special items”.

Amongst the companies expected to release results on Tuesday is Citigroup while Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, US Bancorp and Alcoa are amongst those slated to report on Wednesday.

On Thursday earnings are expected from Morgan Stanley, American Express, Atlassian and IBM.

And on Friday, seven companies are expected to report earnings including Schlumberger.