Good morning, and welcome to Wednesday. There’s only one place to start this morning…
1. Go Blues! NSW and Queensland are about to lose their minds for 24 hours over the second game in the State of Origin series. The NSW Blues take a 1-0 series lead into their home fixture at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium tonight, and will be hoping to end an eight-year losing streak in the rugby league competition. It’s a huge production for ANZ Stadium, and they’ve shared some of their stats with us, including that it takes 45 kegs of beer just to fill the lines to the beer taps. They have 1200 kegs at the stadium and expect to have sold 800 of them by the time NSW captain Paul Gallen lifts the trophy tonight. If you want a glimpse at how badly about 11 million Australians are about to lose it over a competition that barely anyone else knows about, see this. NSW can’t be complacent though: this Queensland team has pulled off extraordinary feats before, and they’re not giving up. Here’s the front page of Brisbane’s Courier-Mail:
— Christopher Dore (@wrongdorey) June 17, 2014
2. US consumer prices rose faster than expected in May, up 0.4% when the market expected 0.2%. This is a sign that inflation is starting to take hold in the US – a good sign for the recovery. “Expect no knee-jerk Fed reaction,” wrote Pantheon Macro’s Ian Shepherdson, “but make no mistake: If these emerging trends continue, markets and policymakers will soom be changing their tunes.” Housing data disappointed, with starts in May falling 6.5% against an expectation of 3.9%, and there was also a sharp fall in new permits.
3. Stocks lifted, but again the gains were slight on the US bourses. The Nasdaq led the way, up 16 points to 4,337.26, an 0.4% gain. The Dow gained 0.1% and the S&P 500 was up +0.2%. The FOMC meeting is underway, and we’ll have an announcement early Thursday morning Australian time. The Fed is expected to continue tapering its asset-buying program by another $10 billion to $35 billion per month. Janet Yellen also gives a press conference and the market will be watching closely for any indication of the Fed’s take on the progress of the US recovery. In Asia, the Nikkei was up 0.29% yesterday, while Shanghai fell 0.9%.
4. Worried CFOs. The latest AmEx CFO Business and Spending Monitor has found Australian CFOs are the world’s most worried when it comes to their assessment of the domestic economy. Two-thirds of Australian CFOs say their company’s spending and investment levels during the next year will be either moderate, or tightly controlled. Remember this next time you’re filing your expenses or thinking about asking for capex.
5. It’s not just CFOs. The minutes of the RBA’s June board meeting, released yesterday, had a couple of ominous notes, mainly that while lower interest rates are working it remains to be seen how “the extent to which this would offset the expected substantial decline in mining investment and the effect of planned fiscal consolidation”. So the non-mining economy is still freewheeling a bit, and it’s hard to tell whether the record low 2.5% cash rate will successfully offset the government’s budget cutbanks. Greg McKenna has the details.
6. The $2.2 billion takeover of David Jones by South Africa’s Woolworths has been approved overwhelmingly by shareholders, but there’s a spanner in the works, and its name is Solomon Lew. Lew is believed to have amassed a stake in recent weeks that could scupper the deal – but nobody knows what his intentions are. One theory is that he will force Woolworths to buy him out at a huge profit.
7. The Amazon smartphone is coming. Jeff Bezos’ giant company is expected to unveil its first smartphone this week, coming from the company’s R&D lab which is said to be working on a range of innovations including a credit card reader for smartphones and speakers that respond to voice commands. More here.
8. At the World Cup it was a disaster for hosts and scorching hot favourites Brazil, who were held to a nil-all draw by Mexico. Belgium beat Algeria 2-1.
9. Get smarter online. If you find yourself going down cat-meme rabbit holes when you’re online and want to use the time more productively, take a look at this list of 19 websites that will make you smarter. Elsewhere, productivity genius Tim Ferriss (author of The Four-Hour Work Week), has shared the simple technique he uses to organise his days.
10. It’s hard being an Instagram hero. The most-liked photo of all time on Instagram, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding photo, took four days to get right, partly because Annie Liebowitz had pulled out as the official wedding snapper. “Because Annie pulled out, I was like, ‘OK, I still want my wedding photos to look like Annie Leibovitz,’ and we sat there and worked on that photo for, like, four days because the flowers were off-colour,” Kanye has revealed. “Can you imagine telling someone who wants to just Instagram a photo, who’s the No. 1 person on Instagram, ‘We need to work on the colour of the flower wall,’ or the idea that it’s a Givenchy dress, and it’s not about the name Givenchy, it’s about the talent that is Riccardo Tisci — and how important Kim is to the Internet.” Sadly, no, Kanye, we can’t imagine.
Bonus item: You’ve seen Sharknado; today, there’s Ducknado. We’re all doomed.
Have a cracking day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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