1. RBA day. The main event in markets today will be the minutes from the RBA’s April rates meeting at 11:30am AEDT. “We don’t expect any surprises from the RBA Minutes,” says Rodrigo Catril, senior FX strategist at the National Australia Bank. “The key message should be that a gradual decline in the unemployment rate is expected, along with some pick up in wages and an eventual return of inflation to target. So the main inference is that monetary policy will also evolve gradually.”
2. The AUD is edging higher ahead of a raft of major economic data out of China today, headlined by Q1 GDP. At 7am AEDT, the Aussie was up 0.18% to 0.7780. From a year earlier, GDP is tipped to have grown by 6.8%, unchanged from the pace reported in the final three months of 2017. The GDP figure has either printed in line or 0.1 percentage points above market expectations every quarter since mid-2015. China will also release urban fixed asset investment, retail sales and industrial output figures for March alongside the GDP report. In the past, these figures have tended to have more influence on the Aussie dollar than the GDP report. All four data points are scheduled to arrive at midday AEDT.
3. Australian auction clearance rates softened last week, led by weaker results in Melbourne and Sydney. Of the 1,890 auctions held during the week, the group received results from 1,535. Of those, 993 properties changed hands while 542 failed to sell. However, with a large number of results yet to be reported, the final clearance rate is likely to be revised down, as often unsuccessful outcomes, are reported to Corelogic later. As seen in the chart below from CoreLogic, while clearance rates remain above the levels seen late last year, the trend has been lower over the past month or so.
4. Hundreds of Australian organisations have been affected in a global campaign of Russian cyber attacks that targeted government agencies, businesses and critical infrastructure. While no information had been compromised by the attacks, which exploited vulnerabilities in internet routers and network equipment, the Turnbull government says the “attempt by Russia is a sharp reminder that Australian businesses and individuals are constantly targeted by malicious state and non-state actors, and we must maintain rigorous cyber security practices”.
5. Jamie Oliver’s Australian restaurant group collapsed on Monday, with the company being placed in the hands of voluntary administrators less than 12 months after the British celebrity chef visited Australia to relaunch the six local restaurants bearing his name. The Canberra outlet closed immediately on Monday. The remaining five sites, in the Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide, will continue to operate, salvaged by a last-minute sale to Brisbane-based Hallmark Group, best known for the Irish bar Finn McCools. Simon Thomsen has more here.
6. ICYMI: Woolworths had an Australia-wide IT crash yesterday. The technical outage shut down the supermarket’s registers, forcing customers to abandon their trolleys and causing “utter chaos”. It has admitted the problem was caused by a software update. Plenty of people turned to Twitter to vent and joke about the situation.
Down Down, the cash registers are down…. #woolworths new slogan.
— Wolf Cocklin (@wolfcat) April 16, 2018
7. Still no sign of missing Cameroon athletes. The ABC reports Cameroon’s chef de mission is due to fly out of the Gold Coast this morning having heard nothing from his eight missing Commonwealth Games athletes. All up, 13 African athletes from the nations of Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Rwanda disappeared during the Games. While none are technically in breach of their visas, which do not run out until midnight May 15, an Australian Border Force official says the missing athletes and officials would be red flagged from May 16, tracked down and deported if they were still in the country.
8. The massive fire in Sydney’s south-west continues to burn today as firefighters work to bring the blaze under control. New reports reveal firefighters believe the fire may have been deliberately lit in Casula. It comes as one of Australia’s top bushfire experts says the fire danger conditions on the weekend were at their worst since the early 1950s.
9. NBN looks like it’s on the up and up, as Australians gobble up its faster, cheaper speeds. The number of Australian homes and businesses experiencing 50Mbps NBN speeds has quadrupled in the past year. NBN Co’s March monthly progress report found 37% of homes and business were accessing 50Mpbs fixed line NBN speeds, compared to 16% a year ago. That equates to an increase of more than a million homes and businesses on top of around 320,000 this time last year. Another round of new wholesale broadband bundles will be available in May 2018.
10. “Free to Be”, a new interactive map that allows women to report incidences of harassment, is being rolled out across Sydney today. Essentially it will enable users to anonymously mark locations in the city where they feel safe and those where they do not. The launch follows a pilot project run in Melbourne two years ago. That resulted in more than 1,300 pins being dropped. You can check it out here.
Have a great day.
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