Good morning. First, to the markets:
1. Locally, the March SPI 200 is up 26 points to 5,778 but reversing the previous night’s gains as BHP and Rio tanked in London trade, both off more than 3%. Another oil crash overnight could put some pressure on some sectors today. On the data front, the very important Westpac Consumer Sentiment data is out at 10.30 this morning before the release of lending data for Australia and New Loans for China.
2. In Asia yesterday, the calls for PBOC stimulus quickly trumped the initial despondency for stock traders in Shanghai with the market finishing up 47 points, 1.51% at 3,142. The question on the bulls’ minds will be whether or not they can drive stocks back up toward the recent highs at 3,402 in the current environment. The Hang Seng hardly budged, up just 0.03% at 24,528. In Tokyo yesterday, the tertiary industry index disappointed by printing negative but the big surge in USDJPY overnight and the positivity in the US and Europe has stock futures higher.
3. On currency markets, the Aussie dollar is back below 78 cents at 0.7767 after a foray back to 0.7840 overnight and a low of 0.7745. So on balance, that’s a poor performance. The euro recovered from below 1.13 again and sits at 1.1316 and you can’t kill sterling, which dipped to 1.5195 before rallying back to 1.5250. USDJPY has surged to 119.38 and is at risk of a big rally. But it’s a holiday in Tokyo today.
4. Joe Hockey wants his party to show some courage and stick with his budget. Despite negative feeling towards his proposed changes to Medicare and higher education – issues high on the list amongst those that nearly saw his leader Tony Abbott toppled on Monday – reports coming out of Canberra this morning are that Hockey told a meeting of Coalition MPs:
“If we junk unimplemented changes we will never get back to surplus.”
That’s a big step back from his promise to the Australian people that the nation’s fiscal position would be back in the black by 2017-18, and puts a lot of pressure on the PM, who’s promised a more populist budget in May.
5. When is a tender not a tender? When it’s for the chance to build 12 submarines for the Australian Navy. On Sunday night, the PM announced on national TV that the Australian Submarine Corp (ASC) was back in the game and a shot at bringing the sub construction industry back to life in South Australia. But yesterday, Sky News grilled SA senator Sean Edwards about what exactly a “competitive evaluation process” really meant and he didn’t exactly sound confident. It hit a low point for Edwards when he compared the one-off chance for Australian companies to be involved in the new generation of subs to “inviting an uncle to your wedding”.
6. On top of the water, we could see more of those giant US warships – and the giant spending the sailors manning them bring – docked around Australia soon. The US Navy’s chief of operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert said a study was being conducted to expand naval cooperation in and around Australia. Visiting Australia to inspect port facilities, Adm Greenert said the US would like to use to support a regular Marine training presence in the northern city of Darwin.
7. It’s never been more depressing to be an Android fan than right now. Why? Because for the first time ever, sales of Google’s Android mobile devices have gone into decline. That’s an astonishing defeat for a product that is given away free to manufacturers. Meanwhile, sales of units on Apple’s system, iOS, were up 90% on the same quarter last year. Samsung’s next Galaxy will have to be a beast – and from early reports, it is.
8. Your bitcoin is worth the same as the day you bought it. If you take Aussie startup CoinJar’s option of hedging it, an initiative they announced last night at Europe’s biggest financial technology innovation conference, Finovate. The cryptocurrency’s biggest fail point is its wild fluctuations – the same thing that makes it so attractive to miners and traders. But regular folk just want to take advantage of fast, cheap online transactions without the risk of their money being worthless tomorrow. Here’s how CoinJar say they’ve solved that problem.
9. It’s a tough time to be a beach-lover in NSW. The shark attacks, some fatal, have this year become an horrific feature of summer. But this week, the Bureau of Meteorology’s sea temperature guide shows the water ranges from 24 degrees between Narooma on the south cost to above 26 degrees between Port Macquarie and Ballina in the state’s north. (The same area where all the NSW sharks have been sighted.) And the surf’s been pretty good, too. Damn. To swim or not to swim?
10. Australia’s new bowling sensation is a 17-year-old from Melbourne’s Xavier College. James Hart claims he hasn’t bowled since he was 12, but joined the school’s team last Friday. A day later, he took four wickets in four balls against Carey Grammar. Then, chasing his fifth wicket on the fifth ball, this happened:
Yep, his mate holding the camera caught it. The pair have faced accusations of trickery, but Xavier’s head of cricket confirmed the feats with Channel 7.
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