10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Cedar and Stuart Anderson are revolutionising beekeeping. Source: Facebook.

Here we go.

1. Today in Aussie earnings. QBE has posted a massive 292% rise in full year profit to $US742 million. The reversal from a previous loss of $US254 million was achieved on a 6% fall in revenue to $US18.226 billion. The insurer benefited from significantly improved business in North America. It also helped that 2014 was a benign catastrophe year which reduced insurance payouts. Not so great was news from the Big Australian. BHP posted a hugely below-expectations profit for the first half, down 47.4% to $US4.265 billion.

2. A world where the Aussie dollar can’t even buy one Kiwi dollar? Like the UnZedders beating us in the cricket (which they may well do), that just doesn’t seem right. But while the Aussie sits around 78 cents, more than 30 cents from its all-time low against the US dollar, it has just printed a new all-time low against the New Zealand dollar (Kiwi) of 1.0294. The ANZ reckons it has got further to fall as well. The Aussie has slipped a little this morning but is clinging around the 78 cent region.

3. On the ASX, SPI 200 futures traders overnight have the March contract up 7 points to 5,868. This follows a 0.4% rise yesterday as the banks led the market higher. Whatever happens today in trade is going to be completely overshadowed tonight with a full list of speeches and important data in the US and Europe.

4. In Asia yesterday, Japan made another 15-year high, up 0.73% to 18,467. BoJ minutes yesterday highlighted the bank still thinks it is going to get inflation back to 2% this year. That’s positive for stocks because of what it implies about the strength of the economy – there is no denying the bullishness of the Nikkei at the moment. Shanghai was out again for CNY but Hong Kong came back and did nothing, closing up 0.02% at 24,837.

5. ASIO has been caught up in the latest leaking scandal. Dubbed “the biggest since Snowden”, Al-Jazeera has obtained hundreds of confidential “spy cables” from some of the world’s top intelligence agencies, including Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, the Russian FSB and South Africa’s SSA. (ASIO’s there too.) The documents date from 2006 to December 2014 and Al-Jazeer and The Guardian plan to run them. They’ll be redacted before publication and their full contents are not yet known, but reportedly include:

  • Israel’s “true” assessment of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
  • An MI6 operation to recruit a North Korean spy.
  • “An assassination plot targeting an African union leader.”

6. Where’s the money in IT? Victoria, according to a new report from the Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association, where contractors are clearing an average of more than $160 an hour. It drops back to a still-healthy $73 an hour for permanent workers, and positions are filled in an average of 33 days. South Australians are our lowest paid techies, ranging from $51 an hour for permanents to $66 an hour for contractors.

7. And they’d better get cracking, because according to this digital evolution index, Australia is in danger of “stalling out” when it comes to momentum on digital innovation. Our placement alongside most of Scandanavia and, oddly, Japan, shows we’ve “achieved a high level of development in the past” but risk falling behind as China, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore race off into the distance.

8. Honey had a big 24 hours, starting with the appearance on crowdfunding site Indiegogo of the mother lode of all hives – the Flow “honey tap”. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a backyard hive with a tap, and it’s gone gangbusters, raising $2 million of its, er, $70,000 goal already. If you’re into it, plant some manuka pines. The famed NZ brand of honey is best for fighting infections, a new study found.

9. Need a PA but can’t afford one? A new app that’s just opened up in the US is called Magic, and it sounds like it does just what it says on the box. Magic operators are available 24/7 and all you have to do is text them and ask the question:

10. Ultimate networking. He’s grown LinkedIn to 300 million users since 2003, so chairman Reid Hoffman knows a thing or two about hooking up, business-style. He’s also co-written a new book, “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age”, which tells you why it’s important to not only be a good networker, but to hire good networkers as well. Lucky for you, he gave us 47 slides that explains it all. (But still buy the book.)

BONUS ITEM: It’s raining money in Dubai. Literally, raining money:

http://youtu.be/GwwwPzmoGrs

Have a great day.

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