By Craig James

In Australia, the week begins on Tuesday when the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases data on overseas arrivals and departures for March. The ABS is still in ‘catch-up’ mode with the data on ‘people flows’ due to processing issues with passenger cards. But the ABS should be basically up-to-date by early August. 

The overseas arrivals and departures information contains figures not just on tourism flows but also longer-term migration. The data is important for tracking activity in the tourism sectors, but also retail spending and the job market.

At present tourist arrivals are up 6.9% for the year, driven by Chinese arrivals, while departures are up by 4.5%. And net permanent and long-term arrivals are at the lowest level in 3 and a half years (since July 2011). 

The other key indicators in the coming week are all released on Thursday. The ABS releases demographic data for the March quarter together with job vacancies and the “Finance and Wealth” publication. 

The demographic data is a little dated, with figures covering December quarter last year. But the data is important for businesses and policymakers, covering birth, deaths and changes in migration levels. Australia’s population growth has slowed, but at a 1.53% annual rate, it is amongst the highest rates in the developed world. 

The Finance and Wealth publication includes a vast array of data. The figures can show how much cash certain sectors are maintaining, foreign holdings of bonds and equities, and wealth levels of Australian households. We may not feel wealthy, but data shows that wealth is at record highs. 

Also on Thursday, the ABS releases data on job vacancies. If vacancies rose in the past three months, it will confirm that the job market is gradually strengthening. 

Bevy of housing data in the US 

The week kicks off on Monday in the US with the national activity index for May as well as May data on existing home sales. Existing home sales eased by 3.3% in April, but economists expect that the loss was largely erased in May. 

On Tuesday, data on new home sales is issued together with durable goods orders, monthly home prices, the influential Richmond Federal Reserve survey and the weekly survey of chain store sales.

Economists expect the proxy for business spending (durable goods orders) rose by 0.2% in May after falling by 1% in April. New home sales may have edged up a little further after the 6.8% gain in May. And data should confirm that home prices are rising at an annual rate of just over 5% in April. 

Also on Tuesday, the “flash” readings of manufacturing activity in June will be released in the US, China and Europe. 

On Wednesday the final estimate of US economic growth for the March quarter is released together with the usual weekly data on housing finance activity. Current data shows that the US contracted at a 0.7% annual rate in the March quarter, but this may be revised to a 0.2% fall. 

On Thursday the weekly data on jobless claims is issued together with personal income and spending, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey and the Markit “flash” reading on the services sector. 

And on Friday the “final” reading of consumer sentiment for June will be released. The preliminary reading showed a lift from 90.7 to 94.6. 

And Greece will remain centre-stage over the week as a June 30 deadline for a debt deal draws near. 

Sharemarket, interest rates, currencies and commodities

The Australian sharemarket has lifted 3.9% so far over the 2014/15 year. And while that doesn’t sound like a remarkable gain, it places Australia in 35th position of 73 global markets monitored. 

The strongest sharemarket over 2014/15 has been Venezuela, with the IBC index up almost 550%. Next best has been China (up 152%) and Argentina (up
44%). Notably the Japanese sharemarket is in position 4, up by almost 35%. 

At the other end of the leader-board are Greece (down 36%), Russia (down 30%) and Columbia (down 26%). 

Other notable moves have been by Germany (up 12%), the US Dow Jones (up 6.6%), and the UK (up less than 1%).