By Craig James

It is a quirk in the economic calendar that each new season gets ushered in with a barrage of economic data. So to the ‘autumn avalanche’. Around a dozen key indicators or events are scheduled for the coming fortnight.

In Australia, the week kicks off on Monday with the release of the “Business Indicators” publication from the Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The publication includes data on sales, profits, inventories and wages.

Profits rose sharply in the December quarter with “company operating profits” rising by 20.1 per cent to a record high of $77.8 billion after rising 1.5 per cent in the September quarter. Profits are up 26.2 per cent over the year. Profits may have lifted a further 10 per cent in the March quarter.

Also on Monday ANZ releases data on job advertisements while the Melbourne Institute inflation gauge and the Performance of Services index are also issued. Job ads rose by 1.4 per cent in April to be near 6-year highs.

On Tuesday the Reserve Bank Board meets. No change in interest rate settings is expected. And the commentary accompanying the decision is likely to be very similar to that of the previous month. It would be interesting if comments were made on fiscal policy settings after the recent Federal Budget.

In terms of economic data on Tuesday the weekly consumer confidence data from ANZ and Roy Morgan is released together with the balance of payments and government finance figures.

Confidence levels have risen for four out of the past five weeks however it is clear that Aussie consumers are just feeling OK at present. The confidence index is still a little below longer-term averages but well above the 100 line that separates confidence from pessimism.

The balance of payments data includes the current account – the broadest measure of Australia’s international trade position. And for the first time since the mid-1970s, Australia may have recorded a current account surplus. In fact a $200 million surplus would be the biggest surplus in 44 years.

The data also includes estimates on net exports (exports less imports). And together with the government finance data, the figures will be important inputs into the economic growth equation.

On Wednesday, the March quarter economic growth estimates will be provided. And at this early stage we expect that the economy grew by around 0.5 per cent in the quarter to be up 1.8 per cent on the year. Australia is in the midst of the world’s longest economic expansion in the modern era.

On Thursday, the international trade data for April is released. And the run of surpluses is set to continue with the Commonwealth Bank Group tipping a surplus of $2.3 billion.

And on Friday, housing finance data is released by the ABS together with the broader lending finance data. And by all accounts the tighter lending policies are having the desired impact with the number of loans for home owners expected to have fallen by 2 per cent in April while the value of all home loans may have been flat in the month.

Overseas: A quiet week ahead in the US

An unusually quiet week is in prospect for key US economic data. There is more interest in China with inflation and trade data to be released late in the week. And all eyes will be on Thursday’s UK election.

The week begins on Monday in the US, with the ISM services index due for release with factory orders, the employment trends index and the quarterly labour costs and productivity data. Economists tip a slight pull-back of the ISM services index from 57.5 to 57.1, remembering a reading above 50 indicates expansion of the sector. Labour costs may have grown at a 2.5 per cent annual rate with productivity largely unchanged.

In China on Monday, the private sector Caixin services index is released.

In the US on Tuesday, the JOLTS job openings index is released together with the usual weekly data on chain store sales. Job openings hit an 8-month high of 5.74 million in March and are not far from record levels, suggesting a healthy job market.

In the US on Wednesday, the usual weekly data on mortgage applications is released together with data on consumer credit. Credit has largely been trending sideways in recent years.

In China on Thursday, the May trade data is released while on Friday inflation figures are due for release. The trade data has proved a little volatile in recent months but in April imports were up nearly 12 per cent on a year ago with exports up 8 per cent. The trade surplus stood at just over US$38 billion in April.

Business inflation (producer prices) is coming off recent highs with annual growth at 6.4 per cent, down from highs of 7.8 per cent in February. But non-food consumer prices in China have been on the rise with the annual growth of 2.4 per cent not far off the fastest rate in 6½ years.

On Thursday in the US, the usual weekly data on claims for unemployment insurance is released. And on Friday in the US, the April data on wholesale sales and inventories are due for release.

Financial markets

In the past decade, the All Ordinaries index has risen only twice in the month of June. The index rose by less than 0.1 per cent in June 2012 and you have to go back to June 2009 to find a 3.5 per cent increase. The months of June, September and November have traditionally been the worst months for Australian shares.