Good morning. To the markets!
1. Locally, yesterday was a down day for the ASX, led by the miners, including BHP which dipped more than 2%, but the overall price drop of 0.8% was largely in line with what futures suggest. The bad news is that overnight futures have fallen further and the SPI 200 March contract is down 45 points to 5,340. So more pressure on the energy sector, iron ore miners and given its portfolio, BHP.
2. In Asia yesterday, the restructuring of Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing’s business helped buoy the Hang Seng which finished the day up 0.44%. On the mainland, Shanghai’s reversal of the 2,405 high on Monday continued with a fall of 1.72% to 3,229 while in Tokyo, trade was much less exciting with the Nikkei up 0.18% to 17,198. Today the release of Japanese trade data will be interesting not only for the local economy but what it might convey about the state of global demand as well.
3. The Aussie rallied to a high around 0.8251 before Europe slammed it back down to a 0.8128 low. It’s sitting now at 0.8167, underperforming against the other majors with euro at 1.1836 and GBP still up on the past 24 hours at 1.5174. USDJPY is lower slightly as well at 118.37 with the yen poised to rally aggressively.
4. Australia’s richest blow $5 billion. Falling commodity prices and uncertain economic conditions have hit our rich list toppers, not surprisingly starting with Andrew Forrest. The mining magnate lost $2531 million in the 2014 downturn which also hit Seven Group Holdings chairman Kerry Stokes. SGH shares fell 24 per cent in the past year, partly due to its Westrac business, a major player in mining equipment. James Packer dropped $1817 million as shares in Crown Resorts dropped 28 per cent. Among the winners were Frank Lowy ($630 million, shares up 50 per cent) and BRW Young Rich list member Jamie Pherous. The Corporate Travel Management chairman pulled in an extra $113 million as CTM shares surged 85 per cent.
5. Morgan Stanley has low hopes for Australia, expecting GDP will fall to just 1.5% year-on-year by the end of 2015. Their pessimistic outlook is based on four shocks which have occurred in the Australian economy:
- Faster terms of trade deterioration than expected
- An alarmist Budget narrative
- A stronger housing recovery in 2014, and
- A household income shock given job losses and negative mix effect from the resources transition.
That, according to them, “paints a negative picture and puts domestic demand close to recessionary levels in 2015”.
6. How well do you know the Internet? Digital agency SYZYGY Group has released its annual list of “20 Things That Happened On The Internet”. We’ll start you off with the Ice Bucket Challenge and iCloud hacks. See if you can find the other 18.
If you give up, SYZYGY’s site offers the clues you need.
7. Larry Pickering pokes the bear. You might know him as the guy who draws the naughty nude calendar cartoons that hung from your dad’s shed or shack wall, but Larry Pickering has also won four Walkley Awards for his work. He’s also currently got a typically in-your-face cartoon lampooning the Prophet Muhammad on his equally provocative website. Result? Detectives have visited him at home to tell him he’s “upset a lot of people” and give him a special phone number to call for help to arrive “in minutes”.
8. Smoking is the new leprosy. There’s a day not too far away when nicotine addicts will be sent away to live in treatment camps, far, far away from normal, healthy humans. Queensland authorities are considering the first step down that road by proposing a ban on people lighting up on their own balconies. A report by QUT informed the state’s Attorney-General that second-hand smoke can – wait for it – drift. The changes would force smokers inside, with all their doors and windows shut, or huddle into a special area with other smokers provided by body corps. Miners who fill the air with millions of tonnes of drifting, cancer-giving particulates, take note.
9. Aussie boy is the toast of China. 12-year-old Stephen White was sitting behind the goals on Saturday when Chinese goalkeeper Wang Dalei was facing a penalty save against Saudi Arabia in their Asian Cup tie. Wang turned and asked White which way to dive, White said left, saved the goal and China scored a 1-0 result in the wash-up. “That’s the way I always go in trying to predict where the ball will go,” he explained to Fox Sports. White got a post-match hug from Wang and an invite to China’s training session last night where he was officially presented with Wang’s jersey.
10. Twenty20 tennis anyone? The new Fast4 format launched in Sydney last night as Roger Federer took on his favourite whipping boy, Lleyton Hewitt in an entertaining debut. The rules are simple – winner is the best of three four-game sets, no advantage points and lets that land legally constitute a play-on. In the case of 40-40, the server chooses which hand they wish to serve to. Tennis supremos hope the matches, which usually take no longer than an hour to play, will draw more people to the game. For the record, Federer stretched his streak against Hewitt to 19-9.
BONUS ITEM: Breakdancing got boring about 20 years ago. Now it’s back – with fireworks! Praise be to human attention spans!