Good morning! Here’s what you need to know as the clock ticks down to the weekend…
1. The rhetoric on ISIS is intensifying. Barack Obama this week described the radical Islamic militant movement that is terrorising Iraq and Syria as a “cancer” with “no place in the 21st century”. His defence secretary Chuck Hagel turned it up again overnight, saying ISIS was “beyond anything we’ve seen”. “We must prepare for everything,” he said, and wouldn’t rule out expanding the US mission in Syria. It comes a day after Tony Abbott described ISIS as “as near to pure evil as we’re ever likely to find” and noted that Jemaah Islamiah, the Indonesian terrorist organisation responsible for the Bali atrocities, had aligned itself with the “murderous hordes” in Iraq. Elsewhere, Texas governor Rick Perry warned ISIS may have sent militants into the US over the Mexican border.
2. To the markets, and the week’s rally continued with the Dow adding 0.4% by the close, while the S&P was up 0.3% to 1,992 – a record high (yawn) – and the Nasdaq was up just 0.1%. There was a raft of good data on the US economy overnight, with the flash PMI, initial jobless claims, the Philly fed’s manufacturing report and home sales data all coming in better than expected. Market attention will now be turning to the Jackson Hole conference in Wyoming, where we’ll hear from Janet Yellen, tonight.
3. The ASX was close to dead flat yesterday, getting dragged down after a good start, in part by an ugly miss on the China flash PMI. It was worse further north, with the Hang Seng losing 0.7% and Shanghai losing 0.5% after a bit of a pullback. The Nikkei was the star performer with the Japanese PMI beating expectations, so it finished up 0.9%. ASX futures are up 10 points ahead of the start of trade.
4. The China PMI miss smashed the Aussie dollar, but it didn’t break a major technical support line so, as is the way of things these days, when the London guys got in there were enough buyers around to bid it back up and erase all the losses. Nice of them. Here’s the chart – the dip near the end is the PMI release, with the recovery through the evening and overnight to back up above US93c this morning. Can’t kill it with a stick.
5. A doctor has been cured of Ebola using an experimental drug in the US. Kent Bradley picked up the lethal virus while treating patients in Liberia, but is now free of the disease after being treated with ZMapp, a drug developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical. “Today is a miraculous day,” he said. “I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family.”
6. Dedicated budgets for innovation are a rapidly emerging trend amongst Australian executives – and two-thirds of them are doing it, according to GE’s Innovation Barometer published today. The survey, which involved more than 3,200 executives worldwide, found that in Australia there was no shortage of ideas but that companies here find it comparatively harder to activate them. Details here.
7. What big data is going to look like. Accounting software company Xero held a conference with accountants and developers this week in Sydney, that it called Xerocon. Most will be well aware of Xero’s existence, but looking at how the software works and the scale they are starting to build, they will have a vast, real-time set of information on the activities of small and medium businesses – their forward orders, cash on hand, cash flows, debts, and so on. It is starting to take shape as a potential goldmine of data on the state of the economy and the health of various industry sectors because for the first time it is pulling together a unified picture of small and medium business activity, which makes up more than 40% of Australia’s GDP. The question now is: what will they do with it? Alex Heber has more here. Xero this morning announces it now has 147,000 users in Australia and is partnering with Telstra to give customers six-month free trials.
8. Iceland has the best names for volcanoes. Sitting under 700m of ice at Dyngjujökull, Bárðarbunga wants to break through. Pressure’s been building steadily and there’s fears of a huge eruption and ash cloud like that from Grimsvotn in 2011 and Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, both of which all but ended air traffic over Europe for nearly a week. And if you want to watch it approaching eruption in real time, here’s a fantastic tool for you.
9. Overslept? Here’s how to deal with it.
10. Second baby girl for Aussie model Kristy Hinze-Clark, who fended off way more than her fair share of critics back in 2009 after marrying then 65-year-old billionaire Netscape founder Jim Clark. The new addition’s name is Harper and she joins her sister Dylan in the family fold. Congratulations Kristy. (And props, Jim.)
Bonus item: the luckiest man in the world comes in from the right of screen about 20 seconds in. Possibly fake, as some physicist YouTubers have claimed, or a stunt.
Have a great weekend. Go the Wallabies. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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