Good morning, and welcome to the start of another big week. Here’s what you need to know:
Markets are lower. ASX futures are pointing to a fall of 23 points at the open, following the lead from US and European markets on Friday which was marked by heavy selling. The NASDAQ was down 1.75%, dragged down by a sharp fall in Amazon, while the S&P500 was down 0.84%. Asian markets also fell on Friday, with Shanghai down almost 1% and the Hang Sen down 1.5%.
Monster week. It’s a hugely busy US economic calendar this week. US GDP is out on Wednesday, with the annualised number expected to tumble to 1.2% from 2.6% partly owing to winter snowstorms. That’s followed by the Fed’s statement and an update on the progress of the taper, with the asset buying program expected to be trimmed another $US10 billion. US manufacturing PMI is out on Thursday and on Friday, we get the jobs report, with the market expecting 215,000 jobs added, almost entirely by the private sector. It’s a relatively quiet week in Australia: on Thursday we get trade data, but the highlight will be the release that day of the findings of its Commission of Audit, the razor gang which worked over the summer to identify possible savings in the federal budget.
Deficit tax. Speaking of budget fixes, Australia’s federal Cabinet meets today and will discuss a short-term income levy on higher-income earners. The business lobby has urged the government to drop the proposal, saying it would be an “unwelcome surprise” that will dampen consumer demand at a time when the economic recovery continues to look patchy. Labor is seizing on the prospect of a tax hike as a giant broken promise.
Sydney’s boom. The Business Outlook from Deloitte Access Economics is out and shows how NSW is picking up speed faster than the other big non-mining state in Australia. The finance sector, Sydney’s sweet spot, has been gathering steam and this has been complemented by a rising housing market, according to partner Chris Richardson. More here. http://www.businessinsider.com.au/sydney-is-the-winner-as-economic-strength-shifts-back-from-the-resoure-states-deloitte-access-economcs-2014-4
Bali ‘hijacking’ farce. Matt Christopher, the Australian who was escorted off a Virgin Australia flight to Bali at the point of a dozen guns over the weekend, has been released without charge. Initially it was thought that he was drunk on board and tried to storm his way into the cockpit, triggering a hijack alert broadcast by the pilots. It turned out he had been asleep and had taken medication, and was disoriented when he awoke. His attempt to “storm the cockpit” was just an enthusiastic search for the toilet.
Australia-China hacking. If you had email correspondence with a federal MP in 2011, it’s likely it was accessible to Chinese spies. It’s emerged that a known security breach, initially thought to have lasted just weeks, was much worse than feared and that Chinese intelligence services may have been monitoring the emails of Australia’s federal parliamentarians for a whole year, building up a detailed picture of the nation’s political and networks.
Ad CEO fired. The CEO of US advertising startup RadiumOne, who had 45 domestic charges against him dropped and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour, has reportedly been fired by his board. He has been defiant in a blog post, saying he didn’t hit his girlfriend but adding that she was having unprotected sex with other people for money.
Google+ is dead. It emerged over the weekend that Google is likely to dismantle its failed social network after the departure of Vic Gundotra, who led the platform. The main impact will be the removal of forced integrations between Google+ and the company’s other services like YouTube and Hangouts.
Wild EPL finish. Manchester City are now the favourites to win the English Premier League after Liverpool lost 2-0 to Chelsea and City beat Crystal Palace 2-0. City is three points behind Liverpool and one behind Chelsea but with a game in hand over both.
TV shocker. Eddie McGuire dropped the c-bomb on his TV show Big Week in Footy last night, calling Port Adelaide’s Kane Cornes an “old c…” live on air, before correcting himself to “old campaigner”. Details and the clip here. McGuire was doing the show from the Logies, where The Block’s Scott Cam took the top gong.
Bonus item: LeBron James took time out in the middle of a slam-dunk to throw a death stare at Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, during a Bobcats-Miami Heat game last night. It’s an amazing slow-mo:
Have a great Monday. I’m on Twitter: @colgo