Good morning and welcome. Here’s your rolling start.
1. Tony Abbott versus Vladimir Putin. The Russian President should sterilise his hand after shaking the Australian leader’s at the G20 Summit in Brisbane next month, a scathing editorial in the Russian newspaper Pravda has warned. That follows Abbott’s comment yesterday that he was “going to shirtfront Mr Putin” over Russia’s alleged involvement in the downing of Flight MH17. The Pravda op ed author doesn’t hold back in blasting both the PM and Australia’s political system. It’s completely hysterical – and not in the humorous sense – but entertaining, at the very least.
2. Bill Evans has a lot of fans. Westpac’s chief economist yesterday made the dual call of a rally in the Aussie dollar and a 15% surge in iron ore finding traction. And hey presto – the Aussie rallied from a low of 0.8649 yesterday to hit a high of 0.8787 and December iron ore rallied another $3.25 to $83.25 a tonne in futures. And news from the CFTC via the ANZ economic team showed that for the first time in months, all the bulls have been washed out of their Aussie dollar positions and traders on Aussie dollar futures markets are now short.
3. In Asia, it was a mixed day’s trade with the Chinese trade data rescuing Shanghai from its lows at 2,341. But the close of 2,366 was still 9 points or 0.36% lower on the day. The Hang Seng had no such worries, rising 0.24%, while in Tokyo, a weaker lead from the US and a yen threatening 107 (now broken) has Japanese stocks under pressure. The Nikkei dropped 1.15% to 15,301.
4. On the data front today, the most important single release each month for the economy is released – the NAB Business Survey. This is an excellent snapshot of so much of the economy. Also out is the ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence at 9.30am. New Loans are out in China and tonight we get a raft of CPI releases across Europe and the ZEW survey in Germany. In the US, it’s Redbook night.
5. It’s been a tough few weeks for the stock market. Each of the major averages has lost ground, and as of Friday’s close, the Dow turned negative for the year. Additionally, the US Federal Reserve is set to wind down its quantitative easing program at end of the month, after which investors will prepare for the Fed’s first interest rate increase since 2006. Throw in continued indications that Europe’s economy is slowing down, as well as unrest in the Middle East and Ukraine, and it’s all a bit overwhelming. JPMorgan is here to help with its excellent quarterly market guide, which they generously shared with us.
6. Carbon dioxode level may not be rising as fast as we thought. Research released today suggests current computer models may have overestimated expected future levels of CO2 in the atmosphere by failing to account for the way plant leaves diffuse the greenhouse gas. The study is an attempt to explain why CO2 in the atmosphere isn’t rising even faster and also highlights that current models don’t account for any increased plant growth that comes with rising CO2 levels.
7. Speaking of increased plant growth… Tony Abbott’s government has thrown its support behind a clinical trial of medical cannabis, with NSW Premier Mike Baird revealing overnight that a deal was struck at last Friday’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. NSW will lead the collaborative trial, with the support of the Commonwealth and other states and territories. It’s been a massive financial success in the US, but as always with this debate, the health effects are permanently under scrutiny. Health ministers at the meeting reinforced their opposition to the recreational use of cannabis due to links to mental illness.
8. Space elevators. It’s one of those ideas that always raises an eyebrow, like invisibility cloaks and hoverboards, but research on the space elevator front just keeps gaining credibility. It’s essentially a cable anchored to the Earth’s equator and attached to a counterweight somewhere way above Earth’s atmosphere — much higher than satellites in orbit. It seems more and more like a genuine option for humans to escape the costly tyranny of gravity and accelerate space exploration. Now scientists say they may have solved the hardest part of building one – finding a material strong enough. Obayashi, a construction company based in Tokyo, has said that it wants to build one like this by 2050:
9. GamerGate just won’t end. If you haven’t heard of it, there’s been an incredibly tense debate raging in the video game world for nearly a year now. Dubbed “GamerGate”, it’s origins aren’t exactly clear, but one ignition point came last year when video game critic Carolyn Petit wrote a review of “Grand Theft Auto V” that noted the game glorified “male sexuality while demeaning women”. Since then, there’s been a huge backlash against gaming journalists, but particularly women who criticise games mostly enjoyed by men. It is a patently ridiculous reminder of an industry that demands to be seen as mature, yet refuses to grow up. Here’s the latest update which sees the debate has now spiralled down into death threats against women.
10. Sheeds returns to Windy Hill? James Hird needs all the friends he can get at Essendon, and coaching legend Kevin Sheedy could be just the ticket. The Herald Sun reports key people at Essendon have asked Sheedy to consider an ambassadorial and football role as part of the club rebuilding its standing. He would arrive as part of a package that also sees Mark Harvey replace Simon Goodwin as senior assistant coach. Pity poor Mark Thompson, who could become arguably the league’s best coach without a contract after the Suns failed to list him as a candidate to replace Guy McKenna.
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