Good morning. It’s a brave new week… and there’s just six of them left for 2014.
1. First up, a recap. Futures traders took the SPI 200 Dec contract up 52 points on Friday, suggesting a good day on the market today. Greg McKenna wondered if that included pricing in all the bad news out of Europe where ECB president Mario Draghi’s latest speech showed that at least he is getting worried about inflation. The futures move suggests it might have been. In Asia, Friday ended on a high note with the PBOC easing and it looks like someone might have got the whisper in Shanghai given the outperformance of mainland stocks over their Hong Kong counterparts. At the end of play, the Hang Seng was up 0.37% to 24,437 while the Shanghai composite rose 34 points or 1.4% to 2,487.
2. The Aussie rose initially. That was on the back of the People’s Bank of China announcement of a 40bp drop in the 1-year lending rate, along with a 25bp drop in the 1-year deposit rate. This is the first time lending rates have fallen since July 2012. That took the Aussie dollar to a high of 0.8720 before closing lower at 0.8660 and it now sits at 0.8663 this morning. Westpac currency strategist Jonathan Cavanagh said: “Our basic thesis is that the move should help stabilise sentiment towards commodity currencies within the region.”
3. On the data front, it is a quiet day but German IFO tonight will be big. RBA deputy governor Lowe speaks tomorrow to the Australian business economists’ conference. And don’t forget the Murray Inquiry report is due soon also, perhaps this week. Here’s your at glance guide to the other big releases out this week from the team at Westpac.
4. Miracle child. This baby boy survived for five days after being dropped down a stormwater drain in Western Sydney. His cries were finally heard yesterday morning by a cyclist, who poked his head in a hole in the drain cover and saw the baby some 2.5 metres below. It was approaching 40C yesterday and he almost certainly wouldn’t have survived the day, but he’s in a stable condition at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. A woman, aged 30, has been charged with attempted murder.
5. Jacqui Lambie might leave the PUP. Today, possibly, to become an independent in the Upper House. PUP leader Clive Palmer sent a letter to members accusing Lambie of deception and using Australia’s war veterans to gain political support. Lambie’s chief-of-staff Rob Messenger says she’ll make an announcement regarding her political future later today.
6. Is your economy failing? Professional economists spend lots of time mulling over government stats on the economy, such as the consumer price index and the nonfarm payrolls report. But there’s some seriously amazing correlations out there which unorthodox traders often make a killing on. How about alligator populations? Mosquito bite rates? Or cheap romance novel sales? Business Insider has compiled a list of the 54 most unusual ones and the surprisingly sensible logic behind them all.
7. Sydney’s war on Uber. More specifically, Sydney cabbies’ and hire-car owners’ war on UberX, the ride-sharing business that continues to infiltrate Australia despite the best efforts of state governments to legislate against it. On one hand, you got the desperate dad who answered a Facebook ad for Uber drivers because he kept getting told he was too old for work. On the other, you’ve got the Australian Taxi Driver Association president hinting at guys “taking up arms”. And in the middle you’ve got hire driver Russell Howarth, who’s made eight citizen’s arrests on UberX drivers in Sydney and counting.
8. Medibank exceeds expectations. The famous mum-and-dad investors of Australia have a new hero after Medibank’s final share offer raised almost $5.7 billion. As a result the government has now set a final price for Medibank shares at $2.15 per share for institutional investors and $2.00 for retail investors. “We felt it was appropriate to allocate 60 per cent to mums and dads across Australia to ensure that they can appropriately share in the future of Medibank,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said. Medibank Private will list on the ASX tomorrow at midday AEDT under the code of MPL.
9. Our connected country. Accountancy and consulting firm EY just released the findings of its inaugural Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2014 report. Amongst it all, you’ll find the Seven Types Of Digital Australians, citizens concerned their government’s digital policy is backwards and some fascinating key findings. We’re doing okay on digital readiness (18th in world), badly on access affordability (49th) and great on internet penetration (8th). Socially, we’re still growing Facebook users, shedding Twitter users and holding steady on LinkedIn. And of those handful of Aussies lucky enough to have been connected to the NBN, 89% say it’s fantastic.
10. The worst Wallabies in a decade. The last time the Wallabies finished a European tour with just one win was nine years ago. They’re facing it again after falling short by three points against Ireland in Dublin. New coach Michael Cheika is remaining upbeat, saying his men continue to “muscle up” and improvement is tracking well. Their last hitout this weekend will be the ultimate test of that – England at Twickenham, Sunday morning. Good luck with that.
BONUS ITEM: Kia designed a car for Wolverine. It’s a promotion for the Blu-Ray release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, so don’t expect to be able to buy it. But you can see it in the flesh at the Australian Open, held at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney starting Thursday. Or just look at it here: