Markets watch budget impact on consumers

The impact of the federal budget on consumer confidence and key wages and jobs data will be the focus for Australian markets this week.

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Economists will be watching Tuesday’s weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence reading and the monthy Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index on Wednesday for any boost from last week’s federal budget.

“The sentiment gauge will attract more than the usual attention given it will be the first reaction of Aussie consumers to the federal budget,” CommSec senior economist Savanth Sebastian said of the weekly survey.

Economists expect Wednesday’s March quarter wages data to show growth of 0.5 per cent, leaving annual growth at a record low of 1.9 per cent.

“While the annual growth rate is the lowest on record, it still remains marginally ahead of underlying growth of consumer prices,” Mr Sebastian said in a research note.

“The real wage gains alongside the low interest rate environment on record will serve to support consumer spending for the rest of 2017.”

The market consensus is for Thursday’s April employment data to show a gain of 5000 jobs and the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.9 per cent.

However, RBC Capital Markets and Commonwealth Bank of Australia economists expect some consolidation after a surge in new jobs in March, forecasting a flat jobs outcome for April and the unemployment rate to tick down to 5.8 per cent.

“A likely small drop in unemployed persons and some retracement in the participation rate after several monthly gains suggest that the unemployment rate may edge a little lower to 5.8 per cent,” a RBC report said.

Also out this week are March housing finance data and the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s last board meeting, which economists do not believe will offer any new insights.

The Australian share market may open trading on Monday flat or slightly weaker after US stocks edged 0.1 per cent lower on Friday.