Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:
- The bleeding for tech stocks stopped on the US markets overnight: Google, Amazon, and Netflix were all up around 3%, while LinkedIn was up 6%. The major US indices all closed slightly up. Asia could be a mixed bag today, however.The lack of stimulus from the BoJ and a big Yen move dragged the Nikkei sharply lower yesterday and in overnight trade. Japanese stocks are likely to open sharply lower. Yesterday in Shanghai stocks rose 1.90% and are likely to remain strong, even if the Nikkei sells off, but the Straits Times index in Singapore could come under pressure from the move in USDSGD to just above 1.25 – the strongest the Singapore dollar has been since December 2013.
- The Australian market is pointing to a higher open. The Aussie dollar reached another 2014 high overnight of US93.6c with the USD weakening, and as commodity prices lifted in parallel the resource-heavy ASX could see a strong day ahead and follow the US markets higher. Consumer confidence is out at 10.30am and home loan approvals at 11.30am – both important indicators right now given the continuing focus on whether the non-mining components of the Australian economy are picking up. More here.
- Two huge elections are underway. Indonesia holds its parliamentary elections today, which will have a strong bearing on the candidates for the next presidency. Support for the PDI-P, which is still chaired by Megawati Sukarnoputri, has been rising in the run-up to polling, especially since the nomination of popular Jakarta governor Joko Widodo as the party’s presidential candidate. Widodo is seen as a business-friendly candidate. India is also holding what will be the biggest election in history, with more than 800 million people eligible to vote in a process that will only be completed on May 12. The BJP’s Narendra Modi is expected to emerge as prime minister and will have the task of improving the business environment and reducing the deficit, currently around 8% of GDP.
- The IMF World Economic Outlook was released overnight, and while it sees the global recovery strengthening, it is also patchy – and Australia will be caught in the gaps. Australia’s projected growth has been revised down to 2.6% from 2.8% for 2014, while in 2015 the IMF expects 2.7% down from 3% at last read.
- Momentum is building for a major reform of the Australian Labor Party. Following an embarrassing campaign and result in the WA Senate elections, where the party secured just over one-fifth of the primary vote, the party president Jenny McAllister has an op-ed in The Australian today saying the party’s selection process, controlled by unions and factional deals, has to change.
- A major study by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council has found homeopathy is total rubbish, doesn’t work and shouldn’t be used as treatment for any medical condition. One expert says must now be seen as unethical for homeopaths to be prescribing treatment that is known to have only a placebo effect at best. Homeopathy shouldn’t be confused with other alternative treatments: it makes up only about $8 million of the $3.5 billion complementary medicine market in Australia.
- Champion Olympian Ian Thorpe has picked a serious infection following an operation on his shoulder and is in intensive care in Sydney. There were some reports that his life was in danger or that he could lose the use of his left arm, but these have been denied by management. It appears the infection could be one of the superbugs increasingly being seen in hospitals and resistant to traditional antibiotics.
- The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has now killed 100 people in Guinea, and has arrived in the capital Conakry, a city of two million people. At least 10 people have died in Liberia, there are suspected cases in Mali, and the WHO expects to be engaged in fighting the outbreak for up to another four months.
- Twitter is getting a redesign and will look exactly like Facebook.
- Goldman Sachs has a list of seven technology trends that are changing the world. They include the monetisation of mobile, the unprecedented growth rates of tech companies, and the pervasiveness of the technology in the global population.
Bonus item: Some guy in Texas crashed his $US60,000 Chevy into a swimming pool. There’s a lesson for us all: when you’re driving one of the most powerful sports cars ever made by Chevrolet, don’t switch off the traction control.
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