Markets Week Ahead: Australian GDP data, US job numbers and ex-dividend trading to set the tone

Markets Week Ahead: Australian GDP data, US job numbers and ex-dividend trading to set the tone

After the Nasdaq finished in the green on Friday evening, there is some optimism the Australian share market may see a lukewarm start to the new trading week, however, US futures will likely dictate the flow of things to come. 

Local GDP data, as well as US unemployment figures and stimulus discussions will play a key role in driving equity prices, as will bond yields. A significant number of ASX stocks trade ex-dividend this week, which is set to weigh on the key benchmark index.


Economic calendar and news

The new month kicks off with a busy line-up of economic data. Locally, this includes manufacturing and services activity, home loans for January, company profits and business inventories from the fourth quarter of last year, job advertisements, building permits, exports and imports, plus a final reading of retail sales from last month.

Elsewhere, the Reserve Bank of Australia will meet for its latest Board meeting, where no major policy announcements are expected, although the rising Australian dollar may attract some commentary. A shaky end to the week for the Australian dollar saw its rapid ascent come to a halt, at least temporarily, although it is still above a level that the central bank would prefer. 

Nonetheless, one of the biggest items on the agenda this week is the national GDP growth rate for the final quarter of last year. Estimates vary by some margin, though consensus forecasts suggest that growth may top 2.5%.

US economic data includes manufacturing and services activity, factory orders, as well as employment data from February. It is anticipated that around 150,000 jobs were added to the US economy last month. Beyond that, stimulus discussions will take priority, as will trading in US 10-year Treasury yields, which proved a concern for markets last week as inflation worries build.



Major movers

After last week’s tech rout, stocks from the information technology sector are likely to once again prove a barometer for the broader market. This includes local heavyweight names like Afterpay (ASX: APT), having just concluded a $1.5 billion raise via convertible notes at a major premium, as well as major names in the US like Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), which at one stage last week dipped to their lowest levels in more than three months.

Gold stocks will also be in focus after the price of the precious metal slumped below a key threshold and touched its lowest level since June, 2020. This is likely to have a sway over shares like Evolution Mining (ASX: EVN), Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) and Northern Star Resources (ASX: NST).

A host of stocks trade ex-dividend this week, with just some of the names as follows:

  • Monday: Altium (ASX: ALU), Appen (ASX: APX), Aurizon Holdings (ASX: AZJ), Credit Corp (ASX: CCP), Fortescue Metals (ASX: FMG) and Worley (ASX: WOR)
  • Tuesday: Oil Search (ASX: OSH) and Platinum Asset Management (ASX: PTM);
  • Wednesday: IOOF (ASX: IFL), InvoCare (ASX: IVC), Link Administration (ASX: LNK), Medibank Private (ASX: MPL), Orora (ASX: ORA), Origin Energy (ORG) and Treasury Wine Estates (ASX: TWE);
  • Thursday: ASX (ASX: ASX), BHP (ASX: BHP), CSL (ASX: CSL), Jumbo Interactive (ASX: JIN), Monadelphous (ASX: MND), Nine Entertainment Co (ASX: NEC), Pro Medicus (ASX: PME), Perpetual (ASX: PPT), Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) and Woolworths (ASX: WOW);
  • Friday: Ampol (ASX: ALD) and Sims (ASX: SGM)

Meanwhile, Mesoblast (ASX: MSB) is said to be putting the finishing touches on its efforts to raise funding through a private placement. It comes after the auditor who inspected Mesoblast’s half-year results flagged that the company would need to raise funding with haste or risk being unable to continue as a going concern. If the company secures funding, it is expected that proceeds will be used to provide it with working capital, investment in manufacturing and clinical development, technology development, and preparation for confirmatory trials in lead programs with the US FDA.

In the IPO field, existing shareholders in 3D Metal Forge (ASX: 3MF) will be looking forward to the company’s publicly-listed debut, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday. The additive manufacturing company raised $10 million in funds at $0.20 per share to kickstart its growth aspirations. 

Finally, after disappointing results last week, Nuix (ASX: NXL) and TPG Telecom (ASX: TPG) both enter the new trading week near their all-time lows, while AGL Energy (ASX: AGL) and Orica (ASX: ORI) slumped to 52-week lows.


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