Adam Scott shot a 69 at the opening round of the Masters and briefly took the lead. Photo: Getty / File
Good morning, and welcome to Friday. Here’s what you need to know:
- US markets took a bath overnight, with the selling returning particularly on the NASDAQ which was down 3.1%. Perhaps most concerning that there wasn’t a clear trigger, and that it appears to be a return to the sell-off we saw at the end of last week. One theory is that this is an “internal correction”, with investors rotating out of higher-priced tech stocks into cheaper ones that might have more room for growth. But many others think this could be the start of a bigger fall: Business Insider chief Henry Blodget lays out the case this morning here: in sum, the Fed is tightening, valuations are historically high, and US corporate profit margins are at record highs, something that has historically always been followed by a reversion to the mean.
- The falls point to a nasty day ahead on Asian markets. ASX futures project a fall of 57 points to close a week in which the Australian market hit five-and-a-half year highs. Yesterday the Nikkei was flat even though the data was disappointing with machinery orders down 8.8%. Central is the USDJPY which was sitting at 101.55 this morning and any further weakness – which would be expected if risk continues to go off – will doubly hurt the Nikkei. In Shanghai stocks are likely to struggle after yesterday’s big 1.37% but traders will be watching the CPI and PPI data very closely.
- Australian Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson delivered a speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in which he identified four forces reshaping the global economy. He listed them as the advance of technology, changing population and demographics, sustainability (including climate change policy) and the shift in the global economic centre of power back towards the Asia-Pacific. He notes the world “faces a number of global challenges—climate change for example—where there is a significant gap between the scale and nature of the challenge and the scale and nature of the global consensus and arrangements in place to manage it. Closing this gap through effective global cooperation is the only way to address these global challenges.” This flies in the face of the Australian government’s “direct action” approach to climate change, which eschews carbon pricing in favour of harm reduction and tree-planting. But then Parkinson’s OK, he will be gone from his post by the end of the year.
- French unions have struck a deal that prevents companies contacting staff by email or phone after 6pm. It affects the technology and consultancy sectors, so your French contacts in companies like Deloitte and Google will be affected. You wonder what Nick Leeder, the former News Corp and Fairfax executive running Google France, makes of it. (And just for a minute, close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to have no work emails after 6pm. Imagine the silence… picture the peace with family and friends… OK enough, get on with it.)
- The threat of having your accounts hacked by the Heartbleed internet security flaw identified this week is very real. Sites like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo were all vulnerable but have deployed fixes and they now recommend you change your password. Businesses are particularly vulnerable as many nowadays use multiple cloud services. There’s a guide to dealing with it here and a simple way to check if sites are vulnerable here.
- Cyclone Ita has become a very dangerous category 5 storm and could potentially bring huge seas into Port Douglas, Cooktown and Cairns as it approaches landfall later today.
- David Letterman retired from The Late Show this week, and his successor has been announced: Stephen Colbert, the former Daily Show correspondent who spun off his own show The Colbert Report. He says he won’t be doing the show in his character of a satirical patriot, but as himself. A great achievement for him.
- Business Insider Australia’s executive life editor Simon Thomsen has been using Uber for a couple of months and outlines in great detail why he’s never going back to regular taxis again. You know those reviews where the writer tries a product or service and then writes an article based on a brief, limited experience? It’s not one of those.
- Adam Scott had a first-round 69 at the Masters in Augusta, getting his title defence off to a promising start. He was two shots clear of the pack at one point, but had a big setback on the 12th, making a double bogey after finding the water. At time of writing he was one shot behind leader Bill Haas of the US.
- If you’ve got a business lunch on today you should read these 17 etiquette tips from some of Australia’s leading manners experts. Apparently we’re doing it all wrong – for example: don’t touch the bread before the starters arrive, don’t let the guest order the wine, and if you’re using only one utensil, keep the other hand visible. You could be doing anything with it under the table.
Thoughts are with the people in far north Queensland as the storm approaches. Stay safe.
I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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