Good morning and welcome to your Friday. Here’s the best way to start the countdown to knock-off drinks:
1. Markets are flat. The US stock market didn’t do much overnight, with the S&P 500 flat, the Dow down just 0.1% and the NASDAQ up 0.3%. Weirdly, the bond market rallied amid strong manufacturing data – normally, strong numbers would be an indicator of rising interest rates, but the yield on 10-year US Treasuries fell .03%.
2. In Asia yesterday the Nikkei shot higher up 1.3% as company reports suggest there is some good buying in Tokyo. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were out for Labour Day holidays. Today will also be quiet as markets await the non-farm payrolls in the US tonight but in Japan, household spending, unemployment and foreign investment data is to be released. SPI 200 Futures overnight suggest a 12 point rise this morning but each of the last 3 days the market has fallen from the open, so traders will be wary.
3. US jobs report tonight. The world’s most important economic indicator is out at 11pm AEST and economists are expecting the US created 218,000 jobs last month. Remember it’s never too early to submit your #NFPguesses on Twitter with your estimate. Mine is for 253,000, on the high side.
4. Extraordinary revelations from environmental scientist Troy Delbridge, who fronted the Royal Commission investigating the rollout of the Rudd Government’s pink batts scheme. Delbridge told the commission:
“(I was told) the costings were drawn up on the back of a napkin by some senior Labor Party politician … and the head of the bulk (insulation) industry association.”
Remember, the scheme was cut early after four workers died.
5. The notorious former headquarters of the KGB in Riga, Latvia is now open to the public and Reuters photographers got inside to give us a look at the grim interior. Yes, there’s a torture room and it looks every bit like you’d imagine a torture room would.
6. Facebook has made a couple of huge acquisitions in recent months – most famously WhatsApp for $US 18 billion – but also Oculus Rift, the obscurely-named virtual reality headset maker, which Mark Zuckerberg got for $US2 billion. Sounds like a bunch of geeky nerdy stuff, right? Right! But then so was the internet when it first came to newsrooms. The virtual reality headset is, according to everyone who’s tried it, completely mind blowing and could change communication forever. That’s why it matters when there’s news that Oculus Rift might be available to consumers next year. Here’s a cool video of how a Swedish company is using it to mess with people’s heads.
8. NASA’s wonder rover Curiosity has just begun drilling into a slab of rock on Mars and has sent us back this beautiful pic of work underway.
The nice part is the rock is named “Windjara” after the gorge in Western Australia. It sits in a range NASA has dubbed “The Kimberley”.
9. The rise and rise of China’s cheap smartphone manufacturers is no doubt causing major concern to the big brands. Earlier today, Xiaomi had a lot of people freaking out when it tweeted that it got a whopping 122 million pre-orders for its latest device, the RedMi Note. It fixed the mistake, saying it was actually 15 million. That’s about 6 million more phones than Apple sold the weekend it launched the iPhone 5S.
10. BONUS ITEM: Death isn’t funny. But exploding whales are and this one’s going to blow any minute. You can guarantee the internet will melt when it does.
Until then, here’s a reminder of the last time a whale blew up:
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