Good morning! Here’s what you need to know as we count down to the weekend…
1. The major Wall Street investment banks start reporting results tonight, which should give an indication of just how badly the low volatility and general quiet on the markets has had an impact on revenue and profit. Jobs are already being lost and there might be some nasty surprises lurking in the results next week. It could make for a bumpy week ahead. Linette Lopez has the details.
2. Stocks fell in the US trading session, following losses in Europe driven by concerns about Portugal – the country’s second-biggest bank missed some debt payments, and it has some observers concerned about Portugal’s solvency. The Dow was down 0.4% as was the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq off 0.5%. ASX futures are pointing to a fall at the start of trade in Australia. It’s looking like a shabby end to the week following a mixed day in Asia yesterday – the Nikkei fell almost 0.6% but the Hang Seng was slightly higher. There’s no data of note in the region today so bourses are likely to follow the US lead.
3. There was something for everyone in yesterday’s Australian jobs report, which showed the economy added 15,900 jobs in June. Full-time jobs fell 3,800, but there was strong part-time job creation of almost 20,000. The number rounded out a series of reasonably solid data out this week from the Performance of Construction index to the business and consumer sentiment surveys, but the mixture of full-time losses and part-time additions, with the unemployment rate ticking up to 6%, means the economy is far from robust.
4. Space junk put on a show over southeastern Australia last night, clearly visible from Melbourne as it fell through the atmosphere. It was visible for an extended period before fizzing out over Cobar, Victoria. Kristian Harland posted this video to YouTube of his view from central NSW. He thought it was an airplane crashing.
5. They’re at it again in Canberra. Clive Palmer is back in the spotlight after the Palmer United senators voted against the bills to repeal the carbon tax yesterday. The whole mess erupted because an amendment the PUP was seeking – and which the government agreed to – was technically a tax, and taxes can only originate in the Lower House, making the agreed amendment unconstitutional. It made for a chaotic day, and industry is now urging the Senate to jump to it and get the carbon tax repealed because it is costing $11 million a day. The PUP group is expected to help pass the amended legislation next week. The big question for Tony Abbott now, though, what his strategy will be for dealing with the Senate between now and the next election.
6. Clive Palmer, meanwhile, stormed off a live interview on ABC TV last night because Sarah Ferguson was trying to ask him questions about his dealings with Chinese investment company Citic Pacific.
7. Australian odd-job startup Airtasker has acquired one of its rivals, Melbourne-based Occasional Butler, for an undisclosed sum. Both platforms allow users to book people to help them out with chores, admin tasks, trips to the laundrette and so on. Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed but it’s the second acquisition this year for Airtasker, which claims to have an annual run rate of $4 million a year and 3x growth this year. The founders are considering whether to set up in the US.
8. The judge who thinks incest and paedophilia is no longer taboo. District Court Judge Garry Neilson this week presided over a case of a 58-year-old man charged with repeatedly raping his younger sister. He’s now under pressure to stand down after claiming that just as homosexuality is now widely accepted, the community may no longer see sexual contact between siblings and between adults and children as “unnatural” or “taboo”. No Garry, they won’t – ever.
9. Finland mothers get the best gifts. Free ones, too, from the government. Proving that their country really is the pinnacle of modern society, expectant Finnish mums are handed a beautiful gift box, which includes bodysuits, a sleeping bag, bathing products, diapers, outdoor gear, a blanket, unisex clothes, bra pads and condoms. Emptied out, it all sits on a mattress at the bottom to make it “baby’s first bed.”
10. You are what you Like. In Facebook’s case, that’s well-educated if you’re into classical music, intellectual pursuits and fitness. To get that information, a US dating site cleverly cross-examined what Facebookers who listed their education levels put down as Interests. The less-educated? Motor sports, reality TV and wrestling and heavy metal. We want a recount.
Have a great weekend. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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