1. It’s RBA day! Australia’s central bank announces its first monthly interest rate decision of 2015 at 2.30pm AEDT and it’s the most highly-anticipated statement from the bank in months. This is not least because of an article in Melbourne’s Herald Sun last week by veteran RBA watcher Terry McCrann who said the bank would “almost certainly” cut the official cash rate from its current record low of 2.5%. McCrann’s column followed data that showed inflation falling sharply in the last quarter for Australia. However, core inflation was still at 2.2%, the bank doesn’t like to surprise the market, and many observers believe the combination is just enough to keep the RBA from a sudden cut today. Economists still believe some reductions will be necessary this year so it’s a question of how many and how quickly they will come. We’ll have LIVE coverage and analysis on Business Insider around the announcement.
2. Despite weaker than expected economic reports out of the US, locally, the performance of the ASX market is impressive – it rallied for the 8th session in a row. Overnight March 200 futures are up 24 points to 5,592.
3. But in Asia yesterday, not so great. Shanghai’s woes continued with the release of the weaker than expected NBS and HSBC PMIs, which highlighted the economy does appear to be slowing again. Equally ructious was news that President Xi is serious about a corruption probe into China’s largest private lender, China Minsheng Banking Corp. The close in Shanghai at 3,128 was down 82 points on the day before bringing the 5-day decline to 7.54% and taking prices very close to 3,095 the 1-month low. Elsewhere in Asia, the Nikkei was down 0.66% to 17,558 and in Hong Kong, prices dipped 0.09% to 24,485.
4. On currency markets, the Aussie dollar lifted back above 78 cents at 0.7805 this morning after forex traders gave the US dollar a bit of a knock. This also lifted the euro to 1.1336 while sterling is at 1.5019. USDJPY has recovered a little in the past hour and is at 17.47.
5. There’s been a coup in the Northern Territory. Chief minister (the Top End’s version of a Premier) Adam Giles was dumped in a midnight leadership spill. Willem Westra van Holthe, 52, started his new era at the top by offsiding journos, waking them up at 1am to announce he had seized control. The former policeman said there was no reason why he chose last night for the challenge, and could only say the government under Giles “could have done things better in the past”. Mr Westra van Holte promised a more “consultative” government, answered three questions, and promised more details today.
6. Medical marijuana CEO resigns. It’s been a big fortnight for Ross Smith, head of PhytoTech Medical, the first ASX listed medical marijuana company. He saw the company’s share price soar in the 48 hours after it listed, then fall back. Now, he’s out after a bizarre threatening exchange on Facebook. The Australian has the details, but the West Australian has Smith saying his “account got hacked by what is looking like a very good personal smear campaign”.
Red Bull snuck it out in a practice session at Jerez in Spain yesterday. Perhaps no one noticed because it’s “camouflaged”. The livery is designed to confuse competitor’s prying eyes and normally used on concept or pre-production cars. Social media fans, however – and Ricciardo himself – like the look and want to keep it. They’re unlikely to find fans in Red Bull’s investors though.
8. The Fat Duck has arrived. Heston Blumenthal’s famed Michelin 3-star restaurant opens today at Melbourne’s Crown Towers for a six-month residency. A meal costs $525 a head and will last for around four hours with 13 courses, but all the seats were snapped up last year. Still, if you want to know what it’s like to eat snail porridge, our own Simon Thomsen has eaten at both of Blumenthal’s London restaurants. Here what he saw, tasted and heard.
9. It seemed like everyone was eating like a savage in 2014. The Paleo Diet uptake continued and almost pushed it through the “fad” phase. But if you love the idea that you can join in diet conversations just by eating loads of meat, here’s a warning – it’s great for high-performance athletes. Everyone else, proceed with caution. At the very least, don’t make these 10 mistakes meat-cooking amateurs make.
10. There was a football match on yesterday, but the ads were awesome. Super Bowl fans have put in a staggering 4.4 million hours on YouTube during and after yesterday’s big game… watching the ads. That’s double the amount of time they spent on flog-spots last year. Anyway, here’s the 10 best ones.
BONUS ITEM: Anti-vaccers are in the news this week, as the never-ending debate once more dips into the news cycle. Here’s proof it’s been going on forever. You might have noticed a dedication to “Olivia” by Roald Dahl in James and the Giant Peach and another in The BFG. Olivia was Dahl’s daughter. The first dedication was when Olivia, 7, was alive. The second was after she had died of measles. iO9 has the story behind his powerful message to anti-vaccers which he wrote in 1988.
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