Good morning, and welcome to Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:
Markets are up. It might have been partly because Personal consumption grew an impressive 3%, but US stocks shrugged off a Q1 GDP number much lower than expected at just +0.1% year-on-year (+1.2%) was expected and the Dow finished at an all-time high, up 0.2%. The NASDAQ and the S&P 500 were up by 0.2%. The US FOMC monthly statement contained no surprises, with the QE program reduced by another $US10 billion, with the statement accompanying the decision noting growth had picked up recently having slowed during the harsh winter. ADP jobs data showed 220,000 jobs added, giving a strong lead-in to Friday’s jobs report.
PMI Day. It’s a big day in Australia and the region with Australian PMI out at 9.30am AEST, and China PMI – which has the potential to move the Aussie dollar sharply – out at 11am AEST. We get other PMIs from around the world through the day, but none from Europe, where it’s May Day. Stocks were mixed on the Asian markets yesterday, with the Nikkei up just 0.1%. The Bank of Japan kept interest rates on hold and sees inflation on track for 2% for the year.
Bank results. ANZ made a strong start Australia’s bank reporting season this morning, announcing a 15% increase in statutory profit to $3.4 billion with EPS up 10% to $1.287, with a dividend of 83c, up 14%.
Cutbacks day. In Australia, the government releases the report of its Commission of Audit, the razor gang which has assessed the national finances and made a swathe of recommendations on spending cutbacks, at 2pm AEST. The major recommendations are expected to be in health and education, with some smaller state agencies possibly targeted for complete closure, along with some dramatic proposals for welfare entitlements such as including the family home in the means test for the age pension. We’ll have live coverage this afternoon.
Budget mess. After a solid start to its term in office the Tony Abbott-led Coalition has found itself in an extraordinary position less than two weeks out from its first Budget – the very thing it went to the country promising to fix. Backbench MPs have been blindsided by the idea of introducing a “deficit levy”, which is being widely called out for what it is – a tax increase – proposed by a government which promised no new taxes. And Abbott has been forced to reduce the threshold for his signature paid parental leave scheme by $50,000 to $100,000 because the amount proposed was manifestly overgenerous. They have 12 days to get their ducks in a row. It will be a huge embarrassment if on Budget night it emerges that they cannot in fact fix the Budget with the “tough decisions” they have repeatedly promised, and in fact rely on tax increases instead.
What winners look like. The personality trait that most consistently leads to success in life and love is conscientiousness. Research increasingly shows the value of the trait: conscientious people tend to persist towards reaching goals, and “hygiene factors” – avoiding doing things that could lead to problems down the track – also play a big part in helping people succeed in their work and personal lives. The trait in kids is the biggest predictor of success, according to new research.
Mayer’s money. In her 15 months as Yahoo! CEO, Marissa Mayer has been paid worth an eye-watering $US214 million, according to new calculations. It’s largely due to the increase in the stock price over the period – it has gone from under $16 to $36, owing to increased investor confidence but also because the company has a stake in Alibaba which is expected to make a $US150 billion stock market debut. Still: $US214 million. Read it out loud.
Zuckerberg’s transformation. Facebook has unveiled a new mission statement: “Love the people we serve”. Mark Zuckerberg also announced a new anonymous login which will let you limit the amount of information you share with friends.
Australia back on top. The new ICC cricket world rankings are out and Australia is once again the No.1-ranked cricket team in the world, crowning a remarkable returning to form by the Test team under Darren Lehmann’s leadership. It might be a busy end to the week but at least order is restored in that corner of the world.
Have a great day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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