The start of a new month ushers in a barrage of economic data.

In Australia, no less than six indicators are set for release, but most investors and analysts are focused on just direction: the Reserve Bank. The first Board meeting for 2016 is held while the Statement on Monetary Policy is released. In the United States a raft of indicators is released including those covering manufacturing, trade and the all-important employment figures.

The Reserve Bank Board meets on Tuesday and much has changed in the past two months. Volatility has certainly lifted, oil prices have continued to slide; and the Aussie dollar has also weakened; and the European Central Bank has discussed the likelihood of further stimulus measures to boost growth.

While we can’t totally rule out a rate cut from the Reserve Bank, it is almost certain that they will keep rates on hold and maintain its quasi-easing bias – suggesting rates could fall in coming months.

Interestingly if the Reserve Bank were to cut rates it would be able to flesh out its reasoning in the Statement on Monetary Policy. In the Reserve Bank’s interest rate decision, investors will be particularly interested in the policymaker’s views on the Aussie dollar and also the outlook for China.

As mentioned above, the spotlight on the Reserve Bank doesn’t stop with the Board meeting – the quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy is slated for release on Friday. Not only does this report assess economic developments over the past quarter, it includes the latest economic growth and inflation forecasts.

In terms of economic data, the CoreLogic RP Data home value index is released on Monday alongside the monthly inflation gauge and Performance of Manufacturing index.

On Tuesday, weekly consumer sentiment data is released.

On Wednesday data on international trade is issued with the monthly building approvals publication, the Performance of Services index and new car sales figures for January.

And on Friday the December retail trade figures are released. Not only will the report cover the Christmas and Boxing Day clearance sales period but it will also contain quarterly estimates of real or price-adjusted sales for the December quarter.

Raft of US economic indicators due for release

The ‘star’ of the US monthly economic data calendar is the non-farm payrolls (employment) figures. And those jobs figures are released in the coming week on Friday.

Economists expect that the good run of results continued in January with 210,000 jobs created. Apart from the jobless rate, the other indicator in the report that will be scrutinised will be the measure of wages. If wages are starting to lift, the Federal Reserve will feel more comfortable continuing the process of ‘normalising’ interest rates.

In terms of the other indicators, the procession starts on Monday with data on personal income and spending, construction spending and the ISM manufacturing index.

On Tuesday, the regional ISM New York survey is released alongside auto sales. Sales of new vehicles may have lifted from 17.2 million to 17.5 million in January.

On Wednesday, the ADP survey of private sector jobs is released together with the ISM services index. Aside from the nonfarm payrolls, international trade figures and consumer credit data are slated for release on Friday. A trade deficit of $43 billion is expected while consumer credit should have lifted from $14 billion to $15 billion.

In China, the focus is on the various activity measures covering the manufacturing and services sectors. The official statistician – the National Bureau of Statistics – and the private sector Caixin, both have purchasing manager surveys for the two key sectors of the economy. The manufacturing purchasing manager surveys are released on Monday while the services sector measures are issued on Wednesday.

Sharemarkets, interest rates, exchange rates and commodities

Financial market pricing suggests that there is less than a 1 in 10 chance that the Reserve Bank will cut rates on Tuesday, but participants are more certain about a potential rate cut in future months.

The overnight index swap market has priced in a six per cent chance that the Reserve Bank will cut rates on

Tuesday. Financial market participants believe that a quarter percent rate cut in seven months’ time is virtually certain (98 per cent chance) while the cash rate is projected at 1.68 per cent in nine months’ time.

The US profit-reporting season continues in the coming week while at the same time the Australian earnings season also kicks off. The “confessional” period has resulted in no clear trend with a mix of earnings downgrades and upgrades.

On Monday, earnings results are expected from Argo Investments, while News Corp is amongst those to report on Tuesday. On Thursday, earnings include those from Downer EDI, and Tabcorp, while Macquarie Group is set to issue a trading update. And on Friday, earnings are expected from REA Group and Whitehaven Coal.

Upcoming economic and financial market events


Monday 1 February: CoreLogic/RP Data home prices (January). Home price growth is slowing

Monday 1 February: Monthly inflation gauge (January). From TD Securities & Melbourne Institute

Monday 1 February: Performance of Manufacturing (January). Lower Aussie dollar is providing a boost

Tuesday 2 February: Reserve Bank Board meeting. No change in rates or bias expected

Wednesday 3 February: International trade (December). Solidly in deficit but investors not worried as yet

Wednesday 3 February: Building approvals (December). Volatile forward-looking measure

Friday 5 February: Statement on Monetary Policy. Quarterly update on the economy

Friday 5 February: Retail trade (December). Results for the month and quarter


Monday 1 February: China Purchasing Managers (January). Both measures just below breakeven 50 points.

Monday 1 February: US ISM manufacturing (January). Like China, just below breakeven 50 points.

Monday 2 February: US Construction spending (December). A solid 0.5% rise is expected.

Tuesday 2 February: US ISM New York (January). An influential regional survey.

Tuesday 2 February: US Vehicle Sales (January). A healthy lift in sales is forecast.

Thursday 4 February: US Factory orders (December). Orders fell 0.2% in November.

Friday 5 February: US Trade balance (December). A trade deficit of US$43 billion is predicted.

Friday 5 February: US Nonfarm payrolls (January). Jobs are tipped to rise by 210,000.

Friday 5 February: US Consumer credit (December). Expected to lift by $15 billion.