Good morning and welcome to your week.
1. In Asia Friday, the Nikkei and Hang Seng were up marginally, rising 0.18% to 17,198 and 0.355 to 23,890 respectively. Shanghai continued to march to the beat of its own leveraged drum, falling 0.26% to 3,285 after making a new high for this run at 3,405. Silvercrest Asset Management’s managing director and chief strategist, Patrick Chovanec, summed it up best on Twitter this morning:
2. The Aussie looked headed toward 78 cents early last week after the euro was smashed in early Asia last Monday. But the Aussie traded above 82 cents Friday night, closing just off the highs at 0.8201. Euro recovered, just a little, to 1.1844, GBP closed at 1.5160 and the yen finished the week at 118.50.
3. The iron ore rally might be over before it began. It was lower by $1.03 a tonne on Friday after hitting a midweek high of $70.88 when the Chinese inventory news broke. Technical traders will see a double top over the short term around $71 a tonne this past fortnight within an overall pervading downtrend – not good. And don’t forget that in his MYEFO, Joe Hockey factored in a two-year expectation of $60 a tonne. But if it’s a real horror show you’re looking for, how about Newcastle coal finishing the week with the March contract at $57.55 a tonne?
4. We’re all finally back at work. Datawise, that doesn’t yet mean a lot locally, but there’s plenty of action offshore, starting with CPIs out all across Europe during the week. Chinese loans and trade will be huge, too. Here’s Westpac’s excellent economic preview of the key events for the week.
5. I Survived The Darts Invitational. 2015’s best hashtag has already been written and excellently, it involves Australians showing the world how to host a darts championship. Arrows afficionados are already familiar with the heady mix of booze and concentration required to excel at the sport, but officials eliminated the booze component from the pro action end of things years ago. At Etihad Stadium, Saturday, the crowd more than made up for that by chucking tables, urinating publicly and trying to make a world record chair pyramid before cops were called in to evict at least 40 bogans. The pics are astonishing. (BONUS: Vic Police has a senior constable named Adam West.)
6. Now for something really embarrassing. Australia’s internet speeds went down by 1.8% for the quarter. It was one of only three countries in the Asia Pacific to do so, along with Malaysia and Vietnam. Our average internet speed of only 6.9 Mbps puts us in 44th place globally. Only 14% of the country is so far connected to high-speed internet and we rank the most unhappy with the situation out of nine emerging and developed countries. And still we persist with the Turnbull Slowband Option.
7. Sydney siege victim Katrina Dawson was killed by a police bullet. Sad news for everyone involved in this already tragic tale, after an initial investigation found Dawson is believed to have been hit by a ricocheting bullet as police stormed Sydney CBD’s Lindt Cafe. Three other women were also injured by bullets during the raid. The exact cause of Dawson’s death is yet to be officially determined.
8. There’s a bond market rally going on in Asia right now, mostly fueled by plunging oil prices. Unfortunately, monetary policymakers are yet to play ball, so it could be shortlived. As bond yields fall across the region, and are expected to fall further with the expectation of monetary easing in Europe and Japan, there’s still little sign of official rate cuts. In fact, banks in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are even talking of raising rates. “The panic of 2013 is right now foremost in their minds, and they are looking at a Fed rate hike, and so I think they will remain pretty dug in,” said ING’s chief Asian economist Tim Condon.
9. Medicinal marijuana will be part of the NSW election campaign in March. New Opposition leader Luke Foley said patients should not have to wait for the results of a $9 million trial in NSW to achieve proven pain relief. “There’s been plenty of trials overseas,” he said. “We know that, for a certain number of people with terminal illness, that cannabinoid treatments are the only effective measure of pain relief.” Whether it will be a defining tactic for Labor in the election remains to be seen – PM Tony Abbott is on-board already, as is NSW Premier Mike Baird, who asked NSW Police to think twice about charging terminally ill patients for possessing small amounts of cannabis.
10. Will the cricket World Cup come back to Australia? If it does, it could be the last one Australians really care about as the one-day game continues its slow slide out of view. Still, there was some chatter, ergo some interest, as our team was announced on Saturday. The main talking point was not so much the selection of Michael Clarke, but the ultimatum from Cricket Australia that if he couldn’t prove himself fit for the second game of the tournament on February 21, he would be booted from the squad. Some are saying it’s punishment for Clarke’s alleged bickering with CA over demanding to play the First Test against India. But if you want some proper global sport action, turn to tomorrow night’s Asian Cup tie between the Socceroos and Oman, where the home side is expected to build its goal difference comfortably after Friday’s fantastic 4-1 win against Kuwait.
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