By Peter Switzer

I think we’re staring at a pretty important week for the stock market, the economy generally, the future level of the Aussie dollar and the course of interest rates.

The biggest stories to watch come from overseas but let’s just shine the light on the local scene first. Monday brings the monthly inflation gauge from TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute and I’d be surprised if it was bad news. The impact of lower petrol prices should be showing up in inflation and I’m sure this will add more to the case that interest rates are on hold for a long time — probably for the entirety of 2015!

Monday also brings new car sales data and the tip is that is has been a very good December for car sales people.

Tuesday there’s a reading on imports and if they’re rising it can be seen as a plus that consumers are actually out there buying stuff.

Wednesday is the Westpac consumer sentiment number and I’m hanging out to see a good figure to justify my confidence that the economy is improving.

Thursday delivers the latest new home sales, which is another important indicator on what’s going on in the economy now. The end of 2014 brought a lot of negativity on the economy but I’m hoping we can get a nice run of positive reports to turnaround sentiment.

To overseas and on Tuesday China comes up with its latest economic growth number. The expected number is 7.2%. If it’s higher, it will be good news for us and vice versa if it’s less than the consensus. You don’t want to hear about a number that’s a ‘6.something’ as this could spook stock markets.

The Yanks have a week’s worth of housing data, which needs to give out a positive vibe to assure Americans that its economic recovery is going from strength to strength, which I think it is.

There’s an important reading for US manufacturing on Thursday. Again it would be good if it added to positivity. Right now, US company reporting is in full swing. It hasn’t been real flash so we need to see some good news on the earnings front, to ensure Wall Street ends in positive territory for January, which can be a good omen for the year ahead. Big names such as IBM, Morgan Stanley, GE and Starbucks are doing their show-and-tell over the week.

But these potential market movers are a sideshow compared to the European Central Bank’s decision on Thursday. There is a big expectation that the ECB will come up with a huge QE plan to get the European economy growing strongly again.

If this proves to be another dud promise from Mario Draghi, proving that the Germans are still in control of euro zone monetary policy, then there could be a big stock market sell off.

But the reverse is the case if Mario presents Europe with the “big bazooka” he promised some time ago.

All eyes will be on the ECB on Thursday. I’m truly hoping that the powers that be live by a philosophy I have always found appealing: “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing for money.”

And that’s what Europe needs — a whole pile of money thrown at their stubborn, enduring economic problems.

Finally, if it happens as expected, then the euro will fall and our dollar will rise against it, while the greenback should go higher, making Europe the better destination for Aussie tourists in 2015. By the way, that’s the point of the exercise to get Europe growing. QE and a lower currency certainly worked for Uncle Sam.