1. Data, data, data. Key data in Australia this week will be led by Thursday’s February employment report which is expected to show that Australia’s economy extended its record streak of jobs growth. Analysts are forecasting another 20,000 jobs to be added with the unemployment rate to hold around 5.5%. Meanwhile internationally, all eyes will be on the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate announcement on Wednesday night. A 25 basis point rate hike is more or less a done deal — which will take the benchmark rate to a range between 1.5-1.75%. So the focus will be on the FOMC’s accompanying statement to see if the Fed upwardly revises its 2018 rates outlook to four hikes instead of three. Sam Jacobs has all the details in his weekly markets round-up here.
2. Ouch. The Australian dollar just suffered its largest two-day percentage decline since Brexit, falling heavily for a second consecutive session on Friday. The AUD has fallen more than 2% against the greenback in the past two sessions, and currently sits at the lowest level since December last year, extending its slide from late January to over 5%.
3. US President Donald Trump made his boldest appeal yet for the Russia investigation to be shut down after special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly sent over a list of questions to the President as a starting point he wants to use for follow-ups. Mueller is still seeking a face-to-face interview with Trump. It follows the firing of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, a day before he was set to retire with full pension benefits. Since then Republicans and Democrats have distanced themselves from Trump.
4. Facebook and its executives are getting destroyed after botching the handling of a massive data “breach”. Over the weekend a news report revealed that a data firm with ties to the Trump campaign harvested private information from millions of Facebook users. Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, insisted that although user’s personal information may have been misused, it wasn’t retroactively a “breach”. That hasn’t made the situation any better.
5. The Libs won in South Australia. Yesterday, the ABC called the result at 24 of the 47 lower house seats for the Liberals, 18 for Labor and three independents, with two seats in doubt. Pre-poll, postal and absent votes will not be counted until Tuesday. The result saw Jay Weatherill quit as state Labor leader after losing to Steven Marshall. He will likely become a backbencher representing his western suburbs seat of Cheltenham.
6. Cryptos are having a bad time: Bitcoin slumped back below $US8,000 over the weekend and the broader market capitalisation ascribed to the crypto market has hit a yearly low of $US275 billion — down from an all-time high above $US800 billion. Meanwhile, a Canadian rapper named Lil Windex has released a video called “Bitcoin Ca$h”, which tells the rags-to-riches story entailing his life and how he made a fortune through bitcoin cash. In an interview with Business Insider, Lil Windex explained his commitment to bitcoin cash over bitcoin, his favorite cryptocurrency trading platforms, and why he thinks the bitcoin core are “a buncha lames”. See the music clip for yourself:
7. Brexit would put Britain at risk from Russia, according to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s ministers. It comes after May received the backing of Britain’s European allies after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in the UK. As a result, campaigners against Brexit have started to raise questions about whether Britain will be as capable of combatting Russian aggression after it leaves the European Union. Research conducted by the campaign group Open Britain and given to Business Insider highlights how May’s most senior ministers have previously argued that Britain is safer from hostile states like Vladimir Putin’s Russia while inside the EU.
8. Meanwhile, Russia claims foreign hackers are trying to interfere with its election. The country, which has been accused numerous times of attempting to interfere with elections overseas, has claimed that its own presidential contest is under attack from foreign hackers. Officials in Moscow said the Russian Central Election Commission’s website was hit by a coordinated attack by IP addresses from 15 different countries on election day. It said that a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which bombards a website with data requests in an attempt to overwhelm it, hit between 2am and 5am on polling day. Russians are casting votes for one of eight presidential candidates, including incumbent Vladimir Putin, who is all but guaranteed to win by a landslide.
9. Stephen Hawking submitted a final scientific paper two weeks before he died — and it could lead to the discovery of a parallel universe. Hawking is named as co-author on a paper, called “A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation”, submitted on March 4 – 10 days before he died. It sets out a way of testing whether other universes are real. Its mathematical theories could be tested with a deep-space probe.
10. Tiger Woods is making a late charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. After a strong performance on Saturday he’s behind leader Henrik Stenson. “I’m within reach if I shoot a really, really low round tomorrow,” Woods said. “I’ve got a chance.” After multiple surgeries during the past five years, Woods is now the favourite for the Masters. Rory McIlroy was also burning up the course ahead of the final day’s play on Sunday, US time. Here are some of the highlights from the third round at Bay Hill:
Have a great day.
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