By Craig James

After the tsunami of economic data over the past week, another round of top-tier economic indicators is expected next week. In fact, at least another eight economic indicators are due for release in Australia, with a Reserve Bank board meeting also thrown in for good measure. In the US, the data releases will be of a ‘second-tier’ nature. And in China, key economic figures will be released on Monday, Thursday and Friday, covering services, trade and inflation. 

The week kicks off on Monday with a raft of indicators. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases the Business Indicators publication covering profits, sales, stocks and wages. The Melbourne Institute releases the inflation gauge and ANZ issues the job advertisements series.

Job ads have less relevance as a leading employment indicator given that more jobs are now posted on individual company websites and social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter. But the job ads data is still important to watch for turning points. The monthly inflation reading should continue to show that price pressures are subdued. 

On Tuesday, the ABS issues the Balance of Payments figures - quarterly reading on goods and services trade. In addition, the weekly consumer confidence survey is issued by ANZ and Roy Morgan.

Also on Tuesday, the Reserve Bank Board meets to decide interest rate settings. But barring a complete surprise, no change in rate settings is likely. The statement accompanying the decision could be short, although there is scope for a few words on global central bank policy and the stubbornly high Australian dollar. 

On Wednesday, the ABS issues the quarterly economic growth estimates in the National Accounts publication. At this early stage, we’re tipping growth of around 0.3% in the quarter and 3.1% growth for the year.

On Thursday, the ABS releases trade data (exports and imports) for July. We expect the trade deficit remained significant, although it’s likely to have narrowed from $3.2b in June, to nearly $2.1b in July.

Also on Thursday, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor, Philip Lowe, delivers introductory remarks at an International Conference, organised by the Asian Development Bank in collaboration with the Institute of Global Finance.

And on Friday, the ABS releases the July publication of Overseas Arrivals & Departures. The publication includes tourist movements as well as migration flows. China is well and truly now our largest source of tourists, with tourist numbers growing at a pace of over 20% per annum.

Also on Friday, the July housing finance data is released – data on new home loans. Based on figures from the Bankers Association, we expect that the number of loans for owner-occupiers (people who are buying homes to live in them) rose by 2%. In June, the number of new owner-occupier housing loans (commitments) rose by 1.2%. No doubt the interest rate cuts will continue to support home building.

Overseas: Chinese data to dominate attention

There are sparse helpings of top-shelf US economic data in the coming week, with the main interest likely to be the Federal Reserve Beige Book on Wednesday. Chinese trade and inflation data is also issued during the week.

The week kicks off on Monday, with the release of the Caixin China Services sector index. Encouragingly, the sector continues to show modest expansion.

On Tuesday, the focus shifts to the US, where the ISM services index is released. The San Francisco Federal Reserve President, John Williams, is also set to deliver a speech on the economic outlook. While Williams does not have a vote on Fed policy, investors will pay particular attention to the speech as Williams has a longstanding relationship with Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, and he recently signalled that waiting too long to hike rates could be costly.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book – a summary of economic conditions across 12 Federal Reserve districts. This survey of economic conditions could influence the decision making at the September 21-22 Federal Reserve meeting. The JOLTS job openings index is also released on Wednesday, together with the regular weekly figures on housing finance.

On Thursday, the focus shifts to the Chinese trade (exports and imports) figures for August. The trade surplus is significant at present at US$52.3 billion, suggesting there are still healthy global markets for Chinese goods. At the same time, imports continue to slow.

Also on Thursday, the weekly data on claims for unemployment insurance (jobless claims) is issued, together with consumer credit figures for July. Analysts expect a lift in consumer credit from $12.3 billion to US$15 billion.

On Friday, the monthly US wholesale sales and inventories figures are released. Meanwhile in China, the National Bureau of Statistics issues inflation figures – the data on producer and consumer prices. Producer prices are still in decline, down 1.7% over the year. And consumer prices are rising at a modest 1.8% annual rate. Further tame inflation readings would leave the door open to another round of stimulatory measures.

Share market, interest rates, currencies and commodities

The profit-reporting or earnings season is done and dusted. CommSec has analysed all of the results from 139 ASX 200 companies reporting earnings for the full-year to June.

If all companies are included, aggregate earnings were down by 16.8%. But there’s the small matter of BHP Billiton that reported a loss of US$6.4 billion. That result distorts the true picture because almost 90% of companies reported annual profits. If you strip out BHP Billiton, aggregate earnings were up by 6.8%.

Aggregate cash levels haven’t budged much from the last reporting period in December. But it’s clear that companies are as enthusiastic as they have ever been in paying out dividends. In fact, an amazing 92% of companies announced a final dividend for the year to June.