Good morning! Morning Minutes is a round-up of stories that will break on Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec 24, and which we think you'd be interested in.
It appears on weekdays, available by 7am.
Largest Thai human-trafficking trial to begin
The largest human-trafficking trial in Thai history will begin on Thursday (Dec 24), with more than 88 defendants who were implicated after the discovery of mass graves of migrants in camps by the Thai-Malaysian border. The marathon trial will take about two years to conclude. There are fears that the case may eventually collapse because key police investigator Paween Pongsirin is seeking asylum in Australia and is unlikely to return to Thailand to testify.
Thai court to issue judgment on British backpackers murder case
Three judges on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand are expected to deliver the ruling on Thursday (Dec 24) on the murder of a pair of British backpackers, according to the Bangkok Post. If convicted, two Myanmar migrant workers could face the death penalty.
Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun have pleaded not guilty to killing David Miller, 24, and the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, on the diving paradise of Koh Tao in southern Thailand, with the defendants insisting they are scapegoats for a bungled inquiry.
US data on unemployment to be released
The US Labour Department will release data for the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits - figures reflecting market sentiment in the first week since the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 25 basis points. Figures last week showed that benefit claims had fallen to 271,000 from a five-week high, suggesting sustained labour market healing.
The new data is expected to sustain at below 300,000 threshold where it has lingered for 41 straight weeks. A fall in initial claims, which measures new and emerging unemployment, will be good news for the financial markets, as it will reflect improvement in market conditions.
BoJ to reveal policy meeting minutes
The Bank of Japan will on Thursday (Dec 24) release minutes of its Monetary Policy Meeting held on Dec 18, shedding light on discussions which led to the announcement to tweak the bank's stimulus programme. While Governor Haruhiko Kuroda did not change the overall scale of BoJ's asset-purchasing programme, the mainstay of its policy tool, he refined it to include 300-billion-yen (S$3.5 billion) a year spending on the purchase of shares in companies that expand the economy, by investing in their factories or by raising workers’ pay. The slightly changed stance had confused markets and sent them on a roller-coaster ride.
On Monday, Mr Kuroda said changes to its quantitative easing will allow BoJ to quickly respond to any changes in the economic outlook. BoJ has maintained zero per cent interest rate for a while now, and aims to raise inflation levels to 2 per cent by next year.