Australian shares are poised for a modest rise at the opening bell this morning, after last week recording a seven-month high. Central bank rhetoric is set to play a major role in the coming week, with key speeches here in Australia and the US. Rounding out the week will be China’s third-quarter GDP, scheduled for release today, as well as the second and final US presidential debate on Friday.


Economic calendar and news

In the week ahead, the Reserve Bank of Australia will play a central voice, with the topic of fiscal policy and easing likely to draw attention.

The minutes from the October 2020 Monetary Policy Meeting of the Reserve Bank Board are scheduled to be published on Tuesday morning, however, either side of that will be speeches by RBA representatives. This includes a speech by Chris Kent, Assistant Governor (Financial Markets), and later, Guy Debelle, Deputy Governor.

There will also be the latest interim (flash) readings into the Australian manufacturing and services sectors. In recent months the manufacturing sector has shown signs of accelerating growth, albeit the services sector has performed unevenly.

A host of speeches from US Federal Reserve Banks will also play an integral role in market activity this week, alongside developments relating to building permits, housing starts and existing home sales. US earnings season will feature popular names like Tesla and Netflix, however, the final presidential debate looms as a potentially volatile development.

In China, highly-anticipated GDP data is set to be released today at midday, with economists’ forecasts suggesting the Chinese economy saw year-on-year growth of more than 5%. At the same time, other market-sensitive data will be released on industrial production and retail sales.



ASX major movers

Quarterly reports will be front and centre this week, including those from blue chip names such as BHP (ASX: BHP) and Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL). BHP will deliver its operational review for the quarter ended 30 September 2020 on Tuesday morning, before market open, while Woodside Petroleum is scheduled to hand down its third-quarter results for 2020 on Thursday. Also reporting this week are energy trio Oil Search (ASX: OSH), Santos (ASX: STO) and Beach Energy (ASX: BPT).

With most dividend-paying companies now having traded ex-dividend, the number of stocks offering a late-year dividend to shareholders is dwindling at this time of season. However, three listed investment companies from Wilson Asset Management are trading ex-dividend today, including WAM Active (ASX: WAA), WAM Global (ASX: WGB) and WAM Leaders (ASX: WLE).

Numerous high-profile names will convene for their annual general meetings this week. Some of the names on watch include Origin Energy (ASX: ORG), Tabcorp (ASX: TAH), Crown Casino (ASX: CWN), Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC), Qantas (ASX: QAN) and Worley (ASX: WOR).

The list of mid-to-large-cap stocks that touched all-time highs last week continued to grow. While Netwealth (ASX: NWL) and Hub24 (ASX: HUB) cemented their rallies, new names on the list were AusNet Services (ASX: AST), Domain Holdings Australia (ASX: DHG), Summerset Group Holdings (ASX: SNZ), Nickel Mines (ASX: NIC), Temple & Webster Group (ASX: TPW), to name but a few. Amid sector-wide pressure in the coal industry, Yancoal Australia (ASX: YAL) hit a 52-week low.



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