Good morning, and welcome to Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Australian markets will be busy today with retail sales and the trade balance for February out at 11.30am AEDT, and RBA governor Glenn Stevens speaking at a lunch in Brisbane. The market’s expecting a 0.3% increase in retail trade for February and an $800 million trade surplus. More here.
- After a solid day yesterday Asian stock markets are likely to continue their positive mood after overnight gains in Europe and the US, where the S&P 500 finished on yet another all-time high. The Nikkei hit a 3 week high on the back of the Yen’s weakness while stocks in Shanghai were more positive but still range bound. Data to watch today are the Services PMIs in Japan and China which will be important drivers of sentiment. As the day winds up in Australia the ECB meets and will announce its interest rate decision at 10.45pm AEDT – no change is expected, but Mario Draghi’s ensuing press conference will be watched closely for a read on how the board assesses the disinflationary pressures in Europe. All this economic activity is of course a drum roll heading into tomorrow night’s release of the granddaddy of them all, the US jobs report, tomorrow night.
- Cameron Clyne, the chief executive of Australia’s third-largest bank, NAB, is retiring in August and will be replaced by Andrew Thorburn as group CEO and MD, it was announced this morning. There has been mounting pressure on Clyne to deal with the group’s troublesome British assets, which have been a drag on performance, but he leaves after five years with the bank in reasonable shape. The stock closed at a five-month high of $35.56.
- The most senior civil servant economist in Australia, Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson, used a speech in Sydney last night to raise the importance of tax reform to deal with the structural changes in the economy, including the ageing population and the passing of the mining investment peak. It’s one of the most important speeches on Australia’s economy in years, and Parkinson was clear GST reform needs to be on the table to recalibrate the tax base as bracket creep starts to eat into workers’ take-home pay and quality of life.
- Arthur Sinodinos, who stood down from his role as federal finance minister last month, will appear before a corruption inquiry in Sydney today to explain his activity as director of Australian Water Holdings, which was donating to the NSW Liberal Party, where he was a senior office holder. AWH had hidden ties to the corrupt Obeid family and was lobbying to win huge water infrastructure contracts with Sydney Water at the time.
- Steve Jobs openly said he wanted a “Holy War” with Google in 2011, according to an emails unearthed by the WSJ. He also said he wanted to “further lock customers into our ecosystem”. That trapped feeling you can get using Apple products is no accident.
- The explosion in online freelance platforms, such as Freelancer.com and 99designs, has opened up whole new markets for creatives in recent years. With input from the leading platforms we’ve put together a best-practice guide to succeeding in these new marketplaces.
- Australia’s government science agency the CSIRO, which invented WiFi in the 1990s, warns in a report out today that big cities will face a bandwidth crunch within a decade as demand rockets from the addition of millions of wireless devices.
- Meet Bluefin 21, the submarine robot that’s searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines jet.
- Melbourne Storm player Jordan McLean will serve a seven-week ban for the tackle that left Alex McKinnon facing the prospect of never being able to walk again.
Bonus item: This has been doing the rounds – “The Wolf of Buzzfeed”, a parody of Jonah Peretti as Jordan Belfort. It’s smart, funny, and well-produced. Enjoy:
Have a cracking day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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