Good morning. Here’s the score so far.
1. The Nikkei just loves talk of a weaker yen and above 109 yesterday, it shot 1.16% higher to 15,891. The Hang Seng, where the protests seem to be losing momentum, was up 1.09% to 23,315. Shanghai should open around 2,364 but without a major catalyst, Chinese trade should be fairly quiet. In Japan however, the the BoJ monetary policy decision announcement will be key to both the yen and the Nikkei.
2. The US dollar fell, Abe talked up the yen and German factory data tanked. So the yen and euro were stronger, taking the Aussie dollar with them. There’s not much in the data today to change that, with the RBA interest rate decision unlikely to surprise anyone.
3. Treasurer Joe Hockey faces a credibility problem. After years of lambasting former treasurer Wayne Swan’s inability to get the budget back to surplus, Hockey is now warning the budget will take a “hit” from the slowing world economy. According to the The Australian this morning, Hockey said lower commodity prices “do have an impact on our budget — we’ll have more to say in MYEFO. As a result of the fall in iron ore and coal prices, there’s been a hit to the budget.” That’s Treasurer code for: “We need to redo our figures on when we’ll get back to surplus.”
4. There’s been a couple of big moves in iron ore this week so far. Demand growth is healthy with Chinese steel production expected to increase by about 25% in the early to mid-2020s. BHP’s response is to cut costs at its Western Australia iron ore mines by at least 25% and increase capacity by 65 million tonnes per year. “We aim to be the lowest cost supplier to China on an all-in cash basis,” Jimmy Wilson, BHP Billiton’s president of iron ore, says.
5. The news comes as Glencore and Rio Tinto toss up the potential for a merger which would see them become the world’s largest mining company. The AFR reports that Glencore chief executive Ivan Glasenberg believes a $182 billion combination merged mining giant – with market-leading position in iron ore, copper, nickel, zinc and coal – makes sense. Regulators are unlikely to let it happen, but Glencore’s corporate advisers at Standard Chartered are pushing on with preliminary work on a deal regardless.
6. The seventh annual World Architecture Festival wrapped up in Singapore last week, and more than two dozen new buildings and planned projects received awards for their innovative design. The overall winner was a chapel on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, but Aussie architects put in a very strong showing, taking home five major awards. Congratulations to the National Arboretum Canberra (Best Landscape), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Future Project of the Year), The Olive Grove (Best House – Future Project), Chris O’Brien Lifehouse (Best in Health), Lune de Sang Sheds (Best in Production Energy and Recycling) and Liberty Place (Best Office).
7. Australian Maccas get even schmancier. As our US colleagues already know, our fast food workers get paid just about the highest minimum wages in the world. Here’s the return we get on our investment – touch-screen ordering and $15.90 burgers. It’s a trial going on in Castle Hill, Sydney, but insiders are telling US franchisers to get their equipment orders in now. The menu includes two types of buns, four kinds of cheese, and 19 specialty toppings, such as grilled pineapple, guacamole and beetroot. Yes, pineapple.
8. Outrageous fortune. There’s more details here, but this GIF sums up all you need to know right now about this spectacular crash at the Jolly Rally in Valle d’Aosta in the country’s north over the weekend. Minor injuries and, not surprisingly, some mild shock cases were all that resulted.
9. The Australian Opals have taken the bronze medal in the women’s world basketball championship, smashing Turkey 74-44 victory in Istanbul yesterday. That’s a great performance for a team missing key players Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage. The Opals made it to the playoff stage by dropping just one game, against the US, which took the world title with a 77-64 win over Spain.
10. It’s the time of year when one of the world’s most spectacular weather events occurs right here in Australia. The phenomenon is called “morning glory” and Burketown is one of the best places in the world to see it consistently when tubular clouds hundreds of kilometres long clouds roll in across the Gulf of Carpenteria. It’s a hanglider’s dream and Channel 9 weather presenter Garry Youngberry explained it for the Courier-Mail. Here’s some incredible footage from last year’s event:
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