Readings and Viewings: February 16, 2018
Weekly insights and news items from around the globe
Welcome to this week's Readings & Viewings, a collection of news, analysis and other interesting snippets we've spotted from around the world during the latest week for your reading pleasure.
Firstly, global stock markets settled down during the course of this week even though the release of the latest US inflation data (Consumer Price Index) showed a 0.5 per cent spike in January. Remember, it was fears around rising US inflation and interest rates that sent global markets into turmoil earlier this month. One would have half expected Wall Street to head back to panic stations, but the market actually rose on Thursday morning and kept going. Why was it so? Take a closer look at the US CPI data. A lot of the rises were actually seasonal, with the US in the midst of a very cold winter. So it sort of makes sense that markets didn't go into another meltdown (for now).
But that's not to say that US borrowers shouldn't be worried, although most of us would love to lock in a mortgage rate of 4.38 per cent for 30 years! That aside, the interest rate alarm bells will start to ring louder based on the latest Freddie Mac data.
Meanwhile, back in Australia, the economic signs are positive. Data this week showed business conditions are still high, while jobs growth is continuing. The Reserve Bank is holding our rates of course, but our retail lenders will move higher as offshore rates increase.
This week, while the Eurozone saw its strongest economic growth since 2010, the UK was content to celebrate (almost) reaching a smaller milestone.
Now, onto other readings during the week.
This profile on Louise Linton, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, says a lot about how the super-rich deal with politics and the attention of the public.
Warren Buffett dumped one tech stock and upped his stake in its competitor. All this from the traditionally tech-shy investor who still owns a flip phone.
A Chinese company is circling over Greece's Ethniki Hellenic General Insurance, the insurance arm of Greece's National Bank, after Dutch IT giant Exin's $US895 million takeover plan stalled.
Three ships delivering cars were refused entry into New Zealand after fruit-eating bugs were discovered on-board. The ships are now hoping Australia lets them in.
These American kids are doing a better job in cryptocurrencies than most adult investors, and starting their own companies while they're at it. But other crypto consumers have had their bank accounts raided this week.
Bitcoin mining could use more power than all Icelandic homes this year. One house not currently connected to the grid in Iceland could be an Airbnb lodge, but its seven-year old-builder is content to host tea parties there for now.
The longest serving Dutch PM has passed away. He was described as the ideological counterpart of Margaret Thatcher. Across the English Channel, could Theresa May be facing the same threat to her leadership that Thatcher did?
Lastly, augmented reality will become a big part of the online shopping experience, says this home furnishings company. But virtual reality is still a long term punt, according to a start-up company recently bought by Walmart.
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