1. Concerns about Brexit and the US-China trade tensions remain in focus for markets. France is leading a softening in the eurozone, and the IHS Markit’s Composite PMI has tumbled to the lowest level in over four years. Iron ore pries are stronger, with the largest daily increase this year.
2. But the Aussie dollar has opened near its lowest level since early November, having shed 3% since December 4. Weak data out of China over the weekend has put further pressure on the Aussie in early Monday trade.
3. The mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) is out today. The Coalition will unveil multi-billion dollar improvement in the budget bottom line making for a fascinating backdrop for economic and fiscal policy as we head into an election year. The opposition, meanwhile, released a 10-year, $6.6 billion housing plan targeting investors and renters.
4. US-China trade war is fixated on soybeans. Last week China bought 1.13 million metric tonnes of soybeans from US farmers. A hopeful sign of easing tensions? Or an economic necessity? The move was seen as a landmark concession as Beijing and Washington negotiate. But economists say the return may have had less to do with a deal and more to do with China trying to meet soybean demand.
5. Nearly 300,000 jobs could be lost from middle America as a result of the trade wars, according to new study out of the US. A report from the Tax Foundation has indicated Trump’s existing tariffs will cost every middle-class family $US146 and further threatened tariffs could push that to $US453 in a year.
6. Theresa May is struggling to maintain control over Brexit. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has delivered a speech in support of a second referendum and appears to have made a trip to Brussels to visit EU officials. At 10 Downing Street, defacto deputy prime minister David Lidington and other May backers have reportedly be pushing in secret for a second referendum as well.
7. US aircraft carriers are a military beast – but it might be that their god-like status is doing more harm than good. Experts suggest that the risk of losing the carriers as a beacon of American military might would be so destructive to public opinion that US presidents would hold back from using them at all.
8. Amazon-owned gaming company Twitch has opened new offices in San Francisco. A veritable gaming paradise, the Business Insider team got an tour of the new fitout which includes a coffee bar, live-streaming rooms with “stadium seating”, and retro arcade games. Check it out here.
9. 2018 has been a huge year for science. Here are the most buzzed-about science findings of the year from advice on dieting, drinking, to saving the planet. Not only that, Elon Musk beat a world record for rocket launches in 2018. Here’s every history-making SpaceX mission of the year.
10. Uh oh. A woman is suing Apple because she didn’t think the iPhone had a notch — check out Apple’s marketing and decide for yourself.
It comes as one of the most plugged-in Apple analysts just slashed his iPhone XR sales estimates — again.
BONUS ITEM: Kalashnikov, most famous for creating the AK-47, has been supplying weapons to Russia’s imperial tsars in 1800s and still supplies the Russian army today.
They have come out with a range of wacky prototypes including an aircraft with eight blades spinning dangerously around the pilot.
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