Good morning. It’s been a big day already.
1. Hockey waves the white flag. After five months of fighting, it looks like the Abbott Government’s budget measures are a big, fat fail. The AFR claims Treasurer Joe Hockey is about to bow to pressure from the Senate and scrap many of the $30 billion of blocked budget measures. More opposition this week, including to higher education and youth unemployment benefits reforms, were the backbreaker. With just $3bn worth supported, Hockey will now turn to recasting his budget.
2. Shameless ores. Rio Tinto is doubling down in the Pilbara, despite the weak iron ore price, with a proposal in for a new “large-scale” project with an operational life of 16 years. Repeat – the iron ore price is all but worthless. If this had happened in retail, the ACCC would be all over it.
3. Sorry, we just need to get this in early – there’s a massive Block scandal. “Slippery little Karstan and Maxine” are in the firing line again after sneaking an extra room into their apartment. Scotty Cam reckons it’s just luck that the couple secured the room, but they did an amazing job of keeping it a secret from the rest of the contestants. Carlene reckons it’s increased the couples’ chances of winning by “about tenfold” and there’s whispers they paid tradies out of their own pocket to work it into their plan.
4. Back to the markets. In Australia yesterday, it looked like a little end-of-quarter machinations helped the market higher and the physical finished up 0.5% to 5,292.8. Feeding the end-of-quarter window-dressing theory is the fact that the December SPI 200 futures last night dropped an amazing 33 points to 5249 – much uglier than expected. It has, however, broken a big level and is heading lower.
5. In Asia, it is the start of Chinese Golden Week but holidays in China and Hong Kong does not mean that things will be quiet. Chinese official manufacturing PMI is out and given it’s a holiday, more people will be on the streets in Hong Kong. Markets across the region will remain focused on what happens there and how Beijing handles the demonstrations. The Nikkei is open and after a fall 0f 0.87% to 16,174, it will likely be pressured again today.
6. The Aussie is doing well – in a relative sense anyway. After making a low of 0.8684 Monday afternoon, its rally continued and in many ways strengthened with a retest of 87 cents yesterday morning before rallying back to 0.8745 this morning. Elsewhere, the euro remains pressured at 1.2628, USDJPY is up at 109.59 and sterling sits at 1.6212.
7. Datawise, it’s PMI day both here in Australia with the release of the AiG PMI as well as Chinese and then European and US manufacturing PMIs. Retail trade in Australia is super important as well to see how consumers are travelling.
8. Australia’s retirees are the poorest. In the region, anyway, recording some frankly shocking results in the Global AgeWatch Index, which ranks 96 nations on the basis of the quality of life and social and economic wellbeing of over-60s. As a place to retire, we’re 13th overall, which isn’t bad, based on our health and education. But we rank lowest in the region for income security and highest for old-age poverty. Fortunately, here’s a list of 12 better places to live out your life.
9. Ebola is getting closer. The US just confirmed its first case of ebola, which has killed more than 3,000 and infected 6,574 people in West Africa. Before anyone panics though, there’s a few things to know about why it won’t spread through the US like it has in Africa. Despite that, two Australian experts have found a gap in Australia’s plans for the possible arrival of Ebola on our shores. Just sayin’.
BONUS ITEM: Here’s what happens when a couple of 300+ metre container ships start jostling for position at the northern end of the Suez Canal. (The bonus is for the cheering.)
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