7 June 2020
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Australia: A mix of indicators to be released

Craig James
15 May 2020

On Monday

The week starts on Monday with the latest report from the Bureau of Statistics (ABS): “Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, 29 Apr-1 May 2020.” The survey shows how Aussie consumers are being affected from the coronavirus.

On Tuesday

On Tuesday there are four indicators to watch. The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer sentiment index is issued with recent readings suggesting that consumers were adapting to the COVID-19 shock and its impact on all aspects of life. The Commonwealth Bank releases its Household Spending Intentions report April. The Reserve Bank releases minutes (meeting notes) of the Board meeting held on May 5. The RBA left interest rates unchanged but discussed a range of economic scenarios to assist in fine-tuning its forecasts.

And also, on Tuesday the ABS releases the weekly payroll figures. This report draws on data collected by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). And the data has been one of the surprise packets – with the ABS releasing its most timely estimates on the job market, across states and territories and at an industry level.

On Wednesday

On Wednesday, the ‘flash’ or preliminary retail trade data for April is issued with the April Skilled Vacancies report. The retail data has been another surprise packet with estimates of spending released only three work-weeks after the end of the month. It may only be an estimate for Australia-wide spending but the March estimate was close to the final reading.

On Thursday

On Thursday the ABS releases the detailed April labour force estimates. The detailed labour force figures for April include estimates for demographic groups and regional areas. The data takes on additional importance as states and territories assess whether more targeted support payments are necessary.

Also, on Thursday, the Reserve Bank Governor delivers a speech. And ‘flash’ (preliminary) readings on activity in the manufacturing and services sectors are released from Commonwealth Bank.

Overseas: Spotlight on US Federal Reserve

Testimony by the US Federal Reserve chair headlines the coming week diary. But a quieter week is in prospect for ‘top shelf’ economic data in the US with a number of housing activity readings. The loan prime rate setting is the focus in China.

The week kicks off on Monday in the US when the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) index is released. In April the activity index fell to a near 8-year low of 30. On Monday in China, the April house price index is released. In March, house prices were up 5.3% on the year.

On Tuesday

On Tuesday in the US the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, gives testimony on the economy. The Fed chair is expected to be quizzed on what more the Fed can do to support the economy.

Also, on Tuesday in the US, the April data on housing starts and building permits is released with the weekly Johnson Redbook chain store sales figures. Housing starts plunged 22.3% in March to July 2019 lows with new permits down by 7%.

On Wednesday

On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve releases minutes of the last Open Market Committee meeting. Investors will scour the text to gauge whether members discussed the potential for other policy actions.

In China on Wednesday the central bank sets benchmark interest rate: the 1-year prime loan rate and the 5-year prime loan rate. No change in rates is expected by economists.

Also, on Wednesday the regular weekly data on US mortgage applications is released by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

On Thursday

On Thursday in the US, the weekly data on new claims for unemployment insurance (jobless claims) is issued with the Leading Index, IHS Markit ‘flash’ activity gauges for manufacturing and services sectors, existing home sales and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve manufacturing index.

In March, existing home sales plunged 8.6 per cent to 12-month lows with the leading index down 6.7%. And in April the Philly Fed index slumped from -12.7 points to a 40-year low of -56.6 points. The IHS Markit composite index was at a record low of 27 points where readings below 50 separate expansion from contraction.

All indicators will be closely watched but the jobless claims data has been getting most attention of late given the historic increases in the number of people filing for unemployment benefit assistance.

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