1. The ASX looks set to open lower after US markets were dragged down by tech stocks in a shortened session before the July 4 holiday. Trade tensions continue to hang over markets with the first round of US tariffs against China set to go into effect on Friday. Amid lingering trade tensions, Chinese markets will again be worth watching, after policy makers appeared to step in yesterday to stem the selloff in China’s renminbi currency. Chinese stocks — coming off their worst month in two and a half years — also rallied in afternoon trade.
2. The AUD. Broader weakness in the USD saw the Aussie dollar consolidate its gains overnight, after traders in Europe drove the AUD off an 18-month low in the wake of the RBA’s interest rate announcement yesterday. The Aussie’s movements also reflected those in the Chinese yuan, a trend that look sets to repeat today despite the release of major Australian economic data. At 7am in Sydney, the AUD/USD was up 0.60% to 0.7383.
3. Here’s comes Australian retail sales. The report for May will land at 11.30am AEST today, and is likely to moderate slightly from the levels seen in April, according to economists. Retail spending has been weak over the past year, largely reflecting weak growth in household incomes and intense competition among retailers. Strong population growth and robust hiring over this period has done little to lift spending levels. Here’s a 10-second guide to get you up to speed.
4. See no evil, hear no evil. China is trying to downplay a brewing trade war with the US by censoring comments from Trump and US authorities. The country told its media to not “attack Trump’s vulgarity”, and instead said to use state-sanctioned experts and promote “economic brightspots” by using “important page placement”. The notice indicates how China is trying to shield its citizens from news of trade escalations with the US. Meanwhile, it has also been revealed that China plans to split “apart different domestic groups” in the US to drive a wedge into Trump’s base using tariffs. Experts already suspected China was trying as such, but this appears to be the first time the official strategy has become public.
5. Malaysia’s former prime minister has been arrested in a corruption investigation after billions of dollars went missing from 1MDB, a state investment fund that he set up. He lost a re-election bid earlier this year following the revelation. Hundreds of millions of dollars were also reportedly found in his personal bank accounts, although he has long denied allegations of misappropriating funds. A day before his arrest, Najib Razak even swore that $AU920 million found in his bank account is actually a donation from Saudi Arabia. He is due in a Kuala Lumpur court at 10.30am AEST, where he will be charged. The sheer scale of political drama in a country that had never before had a change of power is summed up by this tweet from journalist Erin Cook:
Imagine someone telling you a year ago Mahathir would be PM, Anwar would be pardoned and Najib would be heading for the slammer
— Erin Cook (@imerincook) July 3, 2018
6. Hmm. Elon Musk has ordered Tesla engineers to stop doing a critical brake test on Model 3s. The Tesla founder and CEO ordered his employees to stop conducting the brake-and-roll test, which ensures the car is correctly aligned, on the cars before they leave the company’s factory in California. An industry expert told Business Insider that every automaker does this test to ensure quality and function.
7. This is going to be a challenge. Now the Thai boys soccer team and their coach have been found, rescuers have to figure out a way to get them out. Among the options on the table are: teach the boys to swim out with scuba gear, drag them out, or leave them with supplies to wait until the water drains away. The first has been described as “certainly not easy” and could result in death if something goes wrong, the second would bring them out “in packages” and is usually used on those who are injured or not know how to dive, and the third could see them wait as long as 4 months until the monsoon season ends. This map shows why it’s such a huge challenge to rescue the team.
8. It turns out there are a whole bunch of people out there right now with very low productivity, thanks to the World Cup. A new study from analysts at Citi has found that the World Cup is highly “distracting” to those working in the fixed-income markets. In fact, traders get so distracted by the tournament that market volumes fall by 40%. Meanwhile, English politicians didn’t even get a chance to watch their team face off against Colombia overnight after Scottish MPs forced a series of Parliamentary votes as it began, requiring the increasingly frustrated English politicians to remain at Parliament to vote on them.
9. Speaking of soccer, Nigeria’s team captain found out his father was kidnapped hours before a pivotal World Cup match against Argentina. Despite the news his father was kidnapped and being held for ransom just hours before the match, John Obi Mikel played anyway. His father has since been rescued and received medical attention. Unfortunately, Nigeria would go on to lose the match and get eliminated from the World Cup.
10. Siri can be so awkward sometimes, as Britain’s defence secretary Gavin Williamson recently found out. The politician was giving was giving a very important speech in Parliament on Syria when the voice-activated, artificially intelligent assistant on his iPhone butted in. Here’s a brief idea of how it went down:
Siri: “I found something on the web for ‘Syria Syrian Democratic Forces supported by premonition.”
Laughter from the room.
Williamson: “I do apologise for that. It is very rare that you’re heckled by your own mobile phone. On this occasion, it is a new parliamentary convention, without a doubt.”
— Gavin Williamson MP (@GavinWilliamson) July 3, 2018
Have a great day.
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