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China economic data, the Fed, currencies in focus

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Stocks in Australia were cautious in the morning after the U.S. Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at its latest policy meeting.

The ASX 200 was largely flat in early trade, with the major sectors in mixed territory. Energy stocks fell by 0.77 percent while the heavily-weighted financial subindex gained 0.38 percent.

Meanwhile, futures pointed to a cautious open for the Nikkei 225 in Japan. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 22,480 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 22,430. The index last closed at 22,486.92.

The mainland China markets, which are due to open at 9:30 a.m., will be closely watched as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to weigh on investor sentiments.

One economist warned that relations between the U.S. and China could get more frosty now that the midterm elections stateside are over.

“The upshot is that there will be more noise and volatility on China,” TS Lombard’s Chief U.S. Economist, Steve Blitz, said in a note on Thursday, commenting on the post-election environment. Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer, are “China hawks,” Blitz said.

More economic data will be out at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN, when markets open in China, with the release of the country’s Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index for the month of October.

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Australian stocks fall on the back of overnight plunge on Wall Street

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 500 points on Wall Street overnight, erasing its gains for 2018.

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Goldman slashes Apple price forecast, sees stock going nowhere

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Goldman Sachs now sees Apple’s earnings per year for calendar year 2019 at $13.40, roughly in line with the company’s last three years next-12-month average.

Apple has cut production orders in recent weeks for all three iPhones launched in September, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The company stunned many analysts and investors on Nov. 1 when it said it will no longer break out individual sales numbers for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The three main product lines will be wrapped into one reported revenue figure.

The iPad maker is morphing from a business propelled by the volume of devices it ships into one that stresses luxury products and software sales. That evolution has been marked by shockwaves for much of the technology space, with several of Apple’s largest semiconductor suppliers noting marked declines in order volume.

Apple shares dropped by 5 percent last Monday alone after one of its chipmakers, Lumentum (LITE), said one of its largest customers reduced shipments. Though Lumentum, which makes 3D sensing lasers used in Apple’s Face ID technology, did not mention Apple by name, Wall Street punished the iPhone maker as the prime suspect.

“You’re talking not just about what Apple represents, but its effect across the whole food chain, including semiconductors,” Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives told CNBC last week. “As the core ‘FANG’ names have just taken gut punches left and right over the past few months, this latest downturn for Apple — the degree of it — has really caught investors off base.”

Apple’s decision to no longer break out iPhone sales data, meanwhile, is being heralded as a signal that the phone maker may be expecting softer iPhone volumes in the future. The company has attempted to remedy the slowing volumes with pricier phones, but even those efforts appear to be reaching their limit, Goldman said.

“Apple’s success with iPhone X demand this summer and then a relatively healthy start to the XS cycle this fall suggested to us that pricing power was still intact,” Hall wrote. “However, the laboratory of the market now points to Apple being at the limit of their price premium for the iPhone. In our experience with mobile phones, when pricing power is lost, consumer technology companies tend to either lose margins or market share or both.”

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Norwegian cruise ships to be powered using dead fish

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Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten is to power its ships using liquefied biogas (LBG) produced from dead fish and other kinds of organic waste.

In an announcement at the end of last week, the business said that the LBG used to power its ships would be fossil free and renewable. The fish used in the biogas will come from “cutaways” – essentially waste produce – from fisheries.

“What others see as a problem, we see as a resource and a solution,” the company’s CEO, Daniel Skjeldam, said in a statement.

“While competitors are running on cheap, polluting heavy fuel oil, our ships will literally be powered by nature,” Skjeldam went on to state. “Biogas is the greenest fuel in shipping and will be a huge advantage for the environment. We would love other cruise companies to follow.”

Hurtigruten said that 2019 would see the company introduce the MS Roald Amundsen, which it described as “the world’s first battery-hybrid powered cruise ship.”

By the year 2021, the business wants to operate at least six of its ships with biogas and batteries, combined with liquefied natural gas.

Hurtigruten is the latest company looking to power its ships with renewable energy.

Finnish shipping business Viking Line’s M/S Viking Grace has been fitted with a rotor sail that enables it to use wind power during trips between Finland and Sweden.

The vessel uses a 24-meter-tall cylindrical rotor sail developed by Norsepower Oy, another Finnish company. The sail uses something called the “Magnus effect” for propulsion. As the rotor spins, passing air flows with a lower pressure on one side compared to the other, creating a propulsion force.

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