Good morning – here’s your run-down for Wednesday.
- Treasurer Joe Hockey is going to make a bold play and ask G20 finance ministers to set a hard target for global growth above the forecast 3.7% for the year, by committing to a series of domestic and competition reforms. It would be an unprecedented outcome from the G20 finance ministers’ meeting, which takes place this weekend in Sydney. Hockey also warns in an interview with The Australian that cutting too severely in the federal Budget in May would be “reckless”.
- Craig Thomson, the former Labor MP convicted yesterday of fraud in using union funds to pay for prostitutes, has more trouble coming. He could be jailed for up to five years, and the Health Services Union will try and recover some $400,000 from him through the courts. Politically, the saga is a gift to the coalition, which will take every opportunity to remind voters that the Labor party stuck by Thomson as the allegations swirled around him in the last parliament. Sentencing is in four weeks.
- Nine people have been killed in Ukraine as police move in on protesters in Kiev. Far-right radicals called for supporters to start arming themselves after warnings from authorities that there would be a crackdown amid tensions over the future direction of the country – whether it moves towards Moscow or the EU – simmering since December. There’s a full guide to what’s going on here.
- The latest stoush between Clive Palmer and his former business partners Citic Pacific is a court case in which the now-MP’s company is claimed to have overcharged the Chinese industrial giant by $14 million over two years.
- The minister who spoke with a Seven executive yesterday when the AFP raided their Sydney HQ as part of an investigation into possible payments to Schapelle Corby was Malcolm Turnbull. The communications minister says he also spoke to A-G George Brandis and the justice minister Michael Keenan.
- Most investors have a home bias – a tendency to stick with stocks and other investment products in their home country. Blackrock, the world’s biggest fund manager, says Australian investors need to be especially wary of it and look to other areas, including emerging markets, to diversify their porfolios. Chief global investment strategist Russ Koesterich told the AFR that the huge concentration of resources and financials in the Australian stock market exacerbated the problems here. His suggestion is to look to international stocks and fixed equity and then also look at other products like hedge funds and property. (Reminds me of a recent conversation with a manager from a large emerging fund who laughed when asked what Australian stocks he liked. “Three on the radar and we’re not in any of ’em at the moment,” he said.)
- Kate Upton did a photo shoot in zero gravity.
- American activist investor Carl Icahn made around $US645 million on the stock market overnight, thanks to his stake in Forest Labs, which is being acquired by pharmaceutical company Actavis. In a statement, Icahn said he was “extremely pleased”. The deal overall could make Icahn some $US1.7 billion.
- Australia is within shouting distance of being the No.1-ranked cricket team in the world, after the intrepid New Zealanders won their Test series against India, helped by a magnificent 302 from Brendan McCullum, the first ever triple-century by a Kiwi, that helped force a draw in Wellington. Australia now just needs to win or tie the series in South Africa to gain the No.1 ranking. What a turnaround that would be. Boof will be given the keys to every city.
- Sydneysiders: be aware there’s some wild weather forecast for late afternoon. Heavy rain and a possible thunderstorm could make rush hour a nightmare.
Bonus item: South African cricketer Ryan McClaren has been taken to hospital a couple of days after taking a Mitchell Johnson ball to the side of the head. His ear was bleeding from the blow, and though he batted on he’s been feeling increasingly unwell since. Here is the delivery – listen to the sickening crack. We hope he’s all right.
Have a good one. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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