By Craig James

In Australia, the week kicks off on Monday when the Reserve Bank releases July data on credit and debit card lending. Consumers are using credit cards more often but paying off outstanding balances by the due date.

On Tuesday the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases the data on new motor vehicle sales for August. The industry group, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, released the original data a week ago and it showed that new car sales totalled 90,705 in August, up 2.9% on a year ago. The ABS data will recast the industry estimates in seasonally adjusted and trend terms.

Also on Tuesday the Reserve Bank issues minutes of the Board meeting held a fortnight earlier, and the ANZ/Roy Morgan weekly consumer sentiment survey is also released. There were few changes in the wording of the statement so the hope is that the Board minutes will prove to be more insightful than in the past.

On Wednesday the Reserve Bank Assistant Governor, Guy Debelle, delivers a speech titled “Some Current Issues in Financial Markets – at the Actuaries Institute Banking on Change Seminar in Sydney.

On Thursday the ABS releases detailed employment data for August. Not only will the figures include estimates on participation rates and work hours but it will also include the latest quarterly estimates of employment across industry groups. Jobs growth over the past year has been relatively healthy and the data should provide some interesting comparisons on which industries were doing the hiring.

Also on Thursday, the Reserve Bank issues the latest quarterly Bulletin publication including a range of topical articles.

And on Friday, the Reserve Bank Governor faces a grilling by politicians. And providing that they can abstain from playing politics and ask questions of real interest, then real value can come from the session – such as the Governor’s view of the ideal level of the Australian dollar, the outlook for the labour market and in particular the “new normal” for growth.

Overseas: Chinese data and US Fed dominate attention

On Sunday the monthly batch of Chinese economic indicators are released – retail sales, production and investment. There are signs that Chinese economic activity is gaining pace and investors would want to see further confirmation of that trend. Expect annual retail sales growth near 10.6% with production near 6.3% and investment near 11.2%. The risk is that the results come in on the weaker side of expectations – especially given that China closed down heavy manufacturers and restricted transport in Beijing due to the World Athletic championships. We would expect activity levels to lift in coming months.

In the US, the week kicks off on Tuesday with retail sales figures, industrial production and the influential Empire state survey scheduled for release. Retail sales may have expanded by a good, but not great, 0.4% in August (headline measure), while the underlying (non-auto) measure may have lifted by 0.3%. The pull back in the “flash” manufacturing index has economists expecting that industrial production may have eased by 0.2% in August after the 0.6% lift in July.

On Wednesday the key consumer inflation figures – the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – is released alongside the NAHB housing market index. The CPI for August should once again show that headline inflation is rather tame. In July the Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% to be up just 0.2% over the year. Even stripping out food and energy prices, the core CPI rose by a tame 0.1% in July. Economists tip the core CPI measure to fall by 0.1% in August to be up 1.8% over the year.

The US central bank policymaking group – the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) – meets over Wednesday and Thursday with the decision announced at 4am Sydney time on Friday morning. The guessing game as to when the Fed will lift rates may not be resolved - the probability of the meeting deciding the first interest rate rise in a decade is around 28%. However the text of the decision will be important in determining whether the Fed is on course to lift rates in December.

On Thursday the weekly data on claims for unemployment insurance is issued together with housing starts, building permits, current account balance and the influential Philadelphia Federal Business outlook. Economists expect that housing starts may have fallen by around 4.6% in August following a modest 0.2% lift in July, with building permits unchanged.

On Friday the US leading indicators index is released and the index may have risen by 0.2% in August.