1. Kevin Rudd’s writing about Asia. More specifically, “two Asias” that he says are emerging – “an ‘economic Asia’ that is increasingly dominated by China; and a ‘security Asia’ that remains dominated by the United States”. His concerns about how that will pan out are outlined in his summary report “The Future of US-China Relations Under Xi Jinping”.
2. One problem, Rudd writes, is that China’s only strategic ‘ally’ is North Korea, “which has become a greater strategic liability than an asset”. Because it keeps doing things like shooting generals with anti-aircraft guns if they fall asleep during meetings. That might sound far-fetched, but satellite pics certainly seem to show people lined up in front of some suspiciously massive guns.
3. To markets, where the local did well yesterday, climbing back above 5,700 to close at 5,715. That’s only 20-30 points below the break down level from the big range the ASX 200 traded in for most of this year. But a crash in the price of iron ore by more than 3% in overnight trade and the generally lacklustre performance on US and European markets could weigh on stocks today. It’s a long way off but 5,560/70 is the key downside level to watch.
4. The Aussie dollar has surged to 81 cents on weak US data, proof there is sometimes precious little the RBA can do to dampen it. Key to the move to its highest level since January 21 is that not only did retail sales – which printed 0.0% against an expected rise of 0.2% for April – miss expectations but when auto sales were stripped out, the rise was just 0.1% against 0.5% expected. The battler could head to 83 soon.
5. Everything China’s doing isn’t working, writes Linette Lopez. Since November, China has cut benchmark interest rates three times. It’s also loosened mortgage policies but still:
- Cash floating around the economy fell from 6.7% to 3.2%,
- Total Social Financing fell by 32% since the same time last year, and
- Fixed asset investment (people buying houses, equipment for their businesses) fell to its lowest level ever, from over 13% to 9.4%.
Lopez has called on the Chinese government to get out another bazooka, but make sure it doesn’t involve more debt.
6. The epic Olympic rings that adorned the Sydney Harbour Bridge 15 years ago for the 2000 Games were sold on eBay last night for $21,100 to someone who appears to be based in Queensland. “The Rings are massive, in good condition and under cover they could be used for igloo type buildings,” the seller, Bernard Maas, said on the auction website.
7. BI US correspondent Matt Johnston had an Android phone for eight months. Then, three weeks ago, Apple gave him an iPhone 6. Here’s how he felt about the change and why he’ll never go back to Android again.
8. The search for Flight MH370 is in its final phase, with the government allocating it a final $79.6 million in Tuesday night’s budget. The deep tow sonar is finding plenty of stuff, but unfortunately, none of it is plane wreckage. Shipwrecks, yes – the latest discovery 4km under the ocean is an anchor. They’ve also turned up a shipping container and some coal.
9. “Mad Max: Fury Road” premiered in Sydney last night and it’s a non-stop thrill ride described as “the best movie of the year”. But the real stars are the cars – War Rig, Gigahorse, the Doof Wagon and of course, the Interceptor. Here’s how they were all made.
10. The Australian senate is going to investigate halal certification, as well as GM and organic foods. Opposition to halal certification has been growing in the last year, with a social media campaign targeting a number of prominent food brands such as Sanitarium, Four ‘n’ Twenty Pies, Kellogs, Cadbury and even Vegemite. It’s giving a voice to those concerned certification fees are being used to fund terrorism, so the government’s stepping in to sort it out.
BONUS ITEM: That old trick of getting American celebs to eat Vegemite. This time it’s Jimmy Fallon – “It’s like waves. it comes in waves.”
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