by Craig James

The Australian economic calendar has plenty packed into the four days of the coming week (holidays in most centres on Monday). Of note, the Reserve Bank Deputy Governor delivers a speech on Thursday, with employment data out the same day.

The week kicks off on Tuesday with the release of the latest data on credit and debit card lending from the Reserve Bank.

Latest figures show active use of debit cards by consumers in preference to cash-based transactions while credit card debt continues to be pared back.

Also on Tuesday the NAB business survey is released with the weekly consumer confidence data from ANZ and Roy Morgan. In trend terms, business conditions are at 8-year highs. And consumer confidence is at the highest levels in 29 months, no doubt underpinned by data showing the strongest economic growth in 3½ years.

And in a packed day on Tuesday, Reserve Bank Assistant Governor (Financial Markets) Guy Debelle delivers remarks to a Hong Kong conference.

On Wednesday, Westpac and the Melbourne Institute release the monthly consumer confidence survey. The actual confidence results are of lesser importance given that the Roy Morgan survey is produced weekly. But additional questions such as “What is the wisest place for new savings?” are of interest. In the last survey, respondents said “pay debt” was the second best place for new savings.

On Thursday, the two highlights of the week are scheduled on the same day. Reserve Bank Deputy Governor – and Governor designate – Philip Lowe, delivers a speech at the Economic Society of Australia Business Lunch in Brisbane. And the May employment data is released.

The May employment data will be closely analysed – and not just job creation and the jobless rate but figures showing the number of hours worked and the participation rate are also super-important.

In April, jobs rose by 10,800 and the jobless rate held steady at a 2½-year low of 5.7%. But hours worked fell by 1.1% in April to be down by 0.5% over the year – the first annual decline in hours worked in almost three years. We expect that jobs grew by around 15,000 in May with the jobless rate little-changed.

Also on Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) issues the May data on new vehicle registrations. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has already released sales data and this showed that there were 96,672 new cars sold in May. Over the year to May, a record 1,172,402 new cars were sold. Annual growth of 4.3% is the strongest in 31 months.

Chinese monthly data and US interest rates in focus

There are some ‘top shelf’ indicators to watch in China in the coming week. And in the US, the Federal Reserve hands down its interest rate decision.

The week kicks on Sunday in China with the release of key monthly data including retail sales, production and investment. Australasia will be the first region to respond to the data on Monday morning.

On Tuesday in the US, the Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting (decision handed down 4am in Sydney on Thursday morning). The weak jobs data for May suggests that the Fed will do nothing on rates this month. Updated economic forecasts may provide some guidance on the timing of future rate changes.

Also on Tuesday, retail sales data is released, together with figures on import/export prices, the National Federation of Independent Business business-optimism survey and the usual weekly data on chain store sales. Retail sales may have lifted 0.3% in May, and sales may have been up 0.4% if autos are included.

On Wednesday, industrial production data is released with producer prices, the New York Federal Reserve survey and capital flows data for April. Production may have risen just 0.1% in May after a solid 0.7% gain in April. Producer prices may have risen 0.4% in May but a more benign 0.1% if food and energy are excluded (core measure).

On Thursday, the consumer price index (CPI) is released with the Philadelphia Federal Reserve survey. Core consumer prices may have lifted 0.2% in May to be up 2.1% on the year. The usual weekly data on new claims for unemployment insurance (jobless claims) is also released.

And on Friday, data on housing permits and starts are released. After solid gains in April, relatively flat results are expected in May. Permits may have done best, up around 1%.

Share market, interest rates, currencies & commodities

The 2015/16 financial year is fast coming to a close. And that leads to the inevitable question on the winners and losers over the 12-month period.

In terms of currencies, only 30 of 120 currencies have lifted against the US dollar with around 11 currencies unchanged, and 79 currencies lower over the period. Strongest has been the Japanese yen (up 12%) from the Ghana cedi (up 10%) and Iceland krone (up 7%). The Aussie dollar has fallen around 5% against the greenback, putting it in 83rd spot.

In terms of global share markets, it’s been a tough 12 months. Only 20 of the 73 global share markets monitored by CommSec have increased so far in 2015/16. Best has been Latvia (up 47%) from Slovakia (up 27%) and Hungary (up 23%).

Australia’s All Ordinaries has been flat over 2015/16, ranking it in 21st spot of 73 markets. Ukraine, China, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia have been the worst performers.