Good morning. Eight sleeps to go.
1. In Asia yesterday, it was a tale of stimulus in China and a poor lead in Hong Kong and Japan. Stimulus didn’t happen, but the weak print in the ‘Flash’ manufacturing PMI of 49.5 has hopes raised in Shanghai once more. At the close, the Nikkei was down 2.01% at 16,755, the Hang Seng was down 1.55% to 22,671 and the Shanghai was up 2.32% to 3,022.
2. Locally, price action on the ASX saw the March SPI 200 contract rally 14 points to 5,115. There is no data out today, so offshore markets will drive the bus.
3. The Aussie dollar is primed to crash. Goldman Sachs’ US macro research team released a chart last night that analysed 30 years of the US dollar performance. Their forecast was for it to appreciate another 10% in 2015, which would get RBA governor Glenn Stevens cartwheeling for joy. A stronger US dollar would crush the Aussie on global currency markets, down towards Stevens’s preferred level of 75 cents. It’s currently relatively calm at 0.8205.
4. Low oil prices could spark a wave of acquisitions. Brent crude slipped below $US60 recently. Last year, exploration and development costs hit a record high of around $US22 a barrel. That’s now putting a lot of pressure on those companies with exploration or production assets and as a result, they’re starting to loom as acquistion targets for larger, well-capitalised oil and gas companies looking to expand. “Given the current market conditions, exploring the ASX for acquisitions is potentially a cheaper and also a more certain way to grow reserves and should be considered by management teams,” Roger Dartnell, EY’s Oceania Oil and Gas Transactions leader, said.
5. Sydney gets back to work. There’s still a reduced exclusion zone around the Lindt cafe in Martin Place, but by 10am, all roads are expected to be open following the drama and tragic deaths from this week’s siege. “Martin Place will be open and we will ensure there is a strong police presence to maintain public confidence,” NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Fuller said.
6. You can’t beat a good sinkhole. This week, it’s Melbourne’s turn, where a burst water main caused the earth to open and swallow entire cars.
7. Bushfire season is open. A much more serious threat in Victoria, as 29 fires burn across the state. An emergency warning has been issued by Country Fire Authority for Boweya, and Boweya North. “You are in danger, act now to protect yourself. It is too late to leave. The safest option is to take shelter indoors immediately,” the Victorian CFA warnings webpage advised Boweya residents. One person is unaccounted for.
8. Is there life on Ma-aaars? Yes, maybe, we think so, says NASA, couching Curiosity’s discovery of unusually high methane spikes in the kind of terms you’d expect from scientists not wanting to look foolish later down the track. “That we detect methane in the atmosphere on Mars is not an argument that we have found evidence of life on Mars, but it is one of the few hypothesis that we can propose that we must consider as we go forward in the future,” NASA Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger said this morning. There’s several explanations to be explored, like comets delivering methane when they strike the planet, but the most exciting possibility is that it indicates the presence of bacteria.
9. So your mate is a millionaire – what do you buy him/her for Christmas? Here’s 10 incredibly lavish over-the-top gifts for the millionaire in your life, with the caveat that they have to share them with you. How about lunch with the Dalai Lama in his home? Just $15,000 will no doubt send him on the eightfold path to happiness. To get there faster, lob in a $400,000 Lamborghini Aventador. There’s eight more ideas here which may be outrageous, but hey, millionaires are people too.
10. Jarryd Hayne is on track for an NFL career. The former NRL star impressed several NFL franchises a couple of weeks ago in joint practice sessions and is reportedly close to a deal with the Detroit Lions. He’s also believed to have spoken with the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. Sources say he posted “above average” times in the sprint and putting in some long hours on NFL theory. “From all indications he has gotten stronger and faster,” former Australian gridiron star Colin Scotts told News Ltd.
BONUS ITEM: This great recovery from a gym fan almost wins him back the respect he lost while being pervy. (Hat tip to www.news.com.au for the spot.)
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