MORNING MINUTES: What will make headlines today, April 7, 2015

Good morning! Morning Minutes is a round-up of stories that will break today and which we think you'd be interested in.

It appears on weekdays, available by 7am.

STB to reveal tourism projections, give update on Orchard Road's Pedestrian Night

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will be holding its annual tourism industry conference today (April 7), where industry players can discuss strategies and opportunities with one another. At the event, the STB is expected to give tourism projections for the year and an update on the pilot project to close Orchard Road on the first Saturday of each month. - JESSICA LIM

Autism service providers join forces

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Four non-profit autism service providers will be coming together to form an alliance to address gaps in the sector called the Autism Network Singapore. The founding members are Autism Association (Singapore), Autism Resource Centre (Singapore), Rainbow Centre, Singapore and Saint Andrew's Autism Centre. - PRISCILLA GOY

Portal allowing consumers to compare insurance begins operations

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From today, consumers will be able to compare life insurance products on a new Web portal, and buy a new category of insurance direct - bypassing financial advisers altogether.

Consumers have the option of comparing life insurance products across insurers through the compareFIRST (www.comparefirst.sg) portal, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced yesterday.

Life insurance companies will also start selling direct purchase insurance today. - RACHAEL BOON

DPM Teo in China to improve bilateral ties

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Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean begins his six-day visit to China where he is scheduled to meet top Chinese officials in Beijing, co-host a leadership forum in central Jiangxi and attend the Singapore Day event in Shanghai. Mr Teo, who is making the trip at the invitation of the Communist Party's organisation department chief Zhao Leji, will join some 5,000 Singaporeans in marking Singapore's 50th year of independence and paying a tribute to founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. - KOR KIAN BENG

Rand Paul to announce bid to be Republican presidential candidate

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First-term Kentucky senator Rand Paul is expected to announce his decision to throw his hat in the Republican presidential nomination race. The senator is readying for a tour starting with his home state and early primary states thereafter, as he positions himself to be a digital-savvy Republican conservative who can expand the GOP electorate beyond its traditional boundaries. - JEREMY AU YONG