Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:
Packer ‘fistfight’. Just in: The Sydney Morning Herald reports there’s a bidding war this morning for photos of a fistfight between billionaire James Packer and Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell. The fight, which apparently involved swinging fists and then wrestling on the ground, happened yesterday afternoon in Bondi and broke out when Packer arrived home to find Gyngell waiting outside for him.
Jobs bounce. The US economy added a huge 288,000 jobs last month, way ahead of expectations but with the market impact tempered by the big fall in the participation rate. This one chart shows that the US economy has now almost recovered the job losses from the GFC-triggered recession. But the chart also shows just how deep this downturn has been.
Data deluge. It’s a busy week domestically in Australia. The Reserve Bank’s monthly interest rate decision is tomorrow and the wording of the statement will be the focus of the market, particularly around the high value of the Australian dollar. On Wednesday there’s retail sales and then unemployment on Thursday, with economists expecting 9,500 jobs added following last month’s huge surprise of +18,000. On Friday we get the RBA’s statement of monetary policy with the central bank’s updated forecasts for growth and inflation. ASX futures point to a rise of seven points on the Open.
Fundraising questions. Tony Abbott has been defending fundraising methods for the Liberal Party this morning following a Fairfax media report on the North Sydney Forum, which allowed donor who paid up to $22,000 in membership fees which would help grant private meetings with Treasurer Joe Hockey. This is entirely normal fundraising but the whole system is under extra scrutiny given the corruption investigations into separate, very crooked fundraising efforts by state MPs which have thrown the state government into crisis. More details here.
Budget scramble. Questions about fundraising will be particularly unwelcome for the federal government. The federal Budget is just eight days away but reports today suggest the government is scrambling to adjust its plans – The Australian says the deficit levy, initially reported to kick in for workers on $80,000 a year at 1c in the dollar, will now only affect those on $180,000 or above, with the rate at 2c in the dollar.
Westpac results. Australia’s second-largest bank just announced its half-year results, beating expectations with an 8% increase in cash earnings to $3.77 billion, with a dividend of 90c a share, up from 86c last year. Housing credit growth is at its fastest rate in five years; and there was double-digit growth in all of its divisions, except institutional, which fell.
How not to tweet. The social media implosion of the weekend was Rakesh “Rocky” Agrawal, who was appointed PayPal’s director of strategy two months ago but is no longer with the following a late-night, typo-ridden stream of tweets insulting managers at his new company. Some of the highlights included: “Duck you Smedley you useless middle. manager,” and “People who should be fire from paypal Don Christmas a pool a kick.” PayPal confirmed his departure.
Ukraine tensions flare. Kiev is losing control of key parts of the country. Pro-Russian separatists, apparently with the co-operation of police, released almost 70 sympathisers who were being held in Odessa overnight, following the deaths of 40 people in fighting over previous days. Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk has described it as a “real war”; it’s also been reported that the FBI and the CIA are now advising Kiev.
Changing teen habits. The latest update in a regular survey on the sexual health of Australian teenagers figures has some startling findings about the social changes for the upcoming changes. More than a quarter admit sending a sexually explicit photo of themselves, while with sexually active teenagers, more than 80% admit receiving pictures. Researchers says it is “a strength of young people” that those who are sexually active feel positive about it, while those who aren’t active say they are confident it’s what they want.
Winners. The Brisbane Roar won their third A-League title in four years with a 2-1 win in extra time over Western Sydney Wanderers. The NSW Waratahs kept their Super Rugby hopes alive with a thrilling win over the Hurricanes in Sydney.
Have a great day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo.
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