10 Things You Need To Know This Morning In Australia

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill will reprise their roles as Leia and Luke Skywalker in a new Star Wars movie

Good morning, and welcome to Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:

Markets are up. US home prices came in right in line with expectations at 12.86% year-on-year. The Dow (0.4%), S&P 500 (0.4%) and NASDAQ (0.7%) were all green for the session. ASX futures point to a rise of 23 points on the open, following yesterday’s steep fall of 0.9%, possibly driven by some program selling that kicked in after a fall in the iron ore price put the miners under pressure.

Japan back today. In contrast to Australia the Chinese markets were up yesterday, with Shanghai up 0.82% and the Hang Seng surging 1.45%. Japan had a holiday yesterday but it will be a busy day there, with a raft of data out including Nomura manufacturing PMI, industrial production and housing starts, but most importantly the BoJ’s interest rate decision and statement.

Taper tonight. The US FOMC will release its monthly statement at 4am AEST tomorrow morning. Another asset purchasing reduction of $US10 billion is a practical certainty, which will reduce the value the QE program to $US45 billion. The wording of the statement for indications on the future rate of reductions will be what the market’s looking at.

Budget bluster. We’re less than two weeks out from the Australian federal budget now and it’s looking likely there’ll be an income levy to help repair the deficit and a reduction in eligibility for welfare payments with household income limit of $100,000 for family benefits. With all the talk of tough decisions – what’s worth reading is KPMG’s list, out today, of 10 some policy options that would make huge differences to the budget. They include extending the GST base, removing negative gearing, changes to capital gains and payroll tax and including homes in the means test for the age pension. Some are under consideration but many are not realistic in the current parliament.

Parental leave changes. With the pressure growing for budget sense Prime Minister Tony Abbott has relented on his signature policy of paid parental leave, dropping the threshold for eligibility from $150,000 to $100,000, according a report in The Australian. This means the highest total payout falls from $75,000 to $50,000. It’s a significant concession from Abbott on the policy that he has used to show that he understands the pressures on working women.

Twitter fall. Twitter reported Q1 earnings after the bell and while both revenue and earnings were in line with expectations, the slowing growth in the social network’s user base has the market unimpressed. The stock was down more than 10% in after-hours trading, bringing it near all-time lows.

Spring listing. A backdoor listing will put Australian social network Spring.me – which is the reincarnation of Formspring, for those who remember – onto the ASX through a reverse takeover of resources company GRP Corporation. Spring.me’s parent company has raised $3.5 million in venture capital already, and will seek to raise another $3 million by floating a third of its shares on the ASX. Co-founder Colin Fabig says it’s a good sign that speculative investors are willing to back companies beyond mining and biotech.

50 Best questions. Yesterday we noted only one Australian restaurant, Melbourne’s Attica, made it onto the coveted list of the World’s 50 Best Resaurants, with Sydney’s Quay falling out of favour. Noma is a deserved No.1, Business Insider’s Simon Thomsen has explained some of the industry’s problems with how the list is compiled compared to something like the Michelin guide, and outlines how chefs know it can’t be taken seriously as a reflection of global culinary accomplishment, but must acknowledge that it has the power to make or break restaurants.

Cuff ups. You’ve been rolling your shirtsleeves up wrong your whole life. Try this, look sharper.

Star Wars returns. It’s finally confirmed: there will be a Star Wars Episode VII and it will reunite some of the original cast including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. There’s some speculation that it will be a Han Solo movie. Given the first movie came out almost 30 years ago now, all the advances in Hollywood make-up over the intervening period will be put to good use.

Have a great day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo

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