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Bank set for $4 billion day

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Jobs, banks and the nation’s biggest telco set the scene for a week that will give an insight into the health of the economy.

Major companies including the Commonwealth Bank, CSL, Rio Tinto and Telstra are due to report earnings this week.

Analysts expect the Commonwealth Bank to report a half-year profit above $4 billion.

A major focus will be Australia’s job figures on Thursday, with the unemployment rate expected to hold steady around 5.8 per cent.

South Australia’s figure has been around one percentage point higher than the national average and analysts expect more of the same.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is also set to release home finance figures on Tuesday, while the Westpac/Melbourne Institute Survey of Consumer Sentiment is due out on Wednesday.

“I think Australian consumers are reasonably confident at the moment but they’re hardly getting overexcited,” Commsec’s senior economist Craig James said.

“If the sharemarket starts to pick up a little bit, there’s a bit more confidence around the rest of the world and the Aussie dollar remains stable, I think people will start to get a bit more buoyed.”

While Commonwealth Bank shares got off to a solid start on the share market today (up 74 cents in eal;ry trade) Westpac deputy chairman John Curtis announced he will retire from the board in April.

Chairman Lindsay Maxsted says Curtis’ business acumen and financial services knowledge has been invaluable during the past six years when he joined the board following a merger with the St George Bank (owners of Bank SA).

Curtis, 63, played a key role in the merger. He was chairman and board member of St George Bank before becoming the deputy chairman and chairman of the Board Remuneration Committee at Westpac.

“John has played an important role in key strategic initiatives during his tenure, including the smooth transition through the St George merger, guiding the Westpac Group through the global financial crisis, and helping build a strong portfolio of brands,” Maxsted said.

Curtis will retire from the board on April 25.

He said he’ll leave knowing that the Westpac and St George merger has been an outstanding success.

“It has brought substantial benefits to all shareholders and customers … and provided excellent opportunities for employees to be part of the larger and stronger Westpac Group,” he said.

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