10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning.

1. The Aussie dollar hit a six-year low last night. You can thank US Fed chair Janet Yellen for some of that, after she confirmed US rates will rise this year. But the real shifter was the Bank of Canada cutting rates from 0.75% to 0.5%, taking the Loonie to an 11-year low to just above 1.29. The Aussie’s at 0.7375 and the Kiwi is also at a six-year low of 0.6589 after a weak dairy auction.

2. Locally the ASX had another strong day yesterday with the 200 index up 1.05%, helped by data out of China. Energy stocks benefited from the rally in oil but those same stocks might be under pressure today given that the US dollar strength saw the oil price reverse with a huge 2.7% fall last night. The banks were better bid yesterday led by the Westpac and the Commonwealth. And BHP is taking a huge writedown on its US shale oil operations – about $3.76 billion – following falling global prices. The SPI200 futures are up 5 points to 5,589.

3. Liberal MP and Speaker Bronwyn Bishop is copping a good old grilling. Yesterday a Department of Finance audit of politicians’ expenses revealed she’d spent $5227 to fly from Melbourne to Geelong – a 160km round trip by car – and $88,000 for a two-week European trip in a bid to become president of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union. Today we learnt the Geelong trip was to attend a Liberal Party function at a golf club. Her spokesperson offered this:

“It [is] because of her concern for the country, she works as hard as she can.”

4. Netflix released its second quarter earnings. Shares jumped 11% immediately on news that the video-streaming giant just keeps adding subscribers – 3.3 million for the quarter brings its audience to 65.55 million worldwide. Streaming revenue totaled $US1.48 billion in the second quarter and the stock price has now more than doubled in 2015 alone. Here’s a chart that shows it slowly, but surely, crushing everyone:

5. We’re about two months away from a new iPhone lobbing in, but if you’re tired of shelling out up to $1000 a year just to stay on-trend, here’s 9 alternatives to the iPhone that are almost as good, and all are under $300.

6. 2016 will be the year virtual reality finally becomes a reality. Facebook, through Oculus Rift, is the obvious pacesetter, but Samsung and Sony are also getting in on the game. The smokey is the Vive, a headset born from a partnership between HTC and videogame giant Valve. BI’s Dave Smith got an extended play with the Vive, and here’s why he’s convinced it will change the world forever.

7. Pluto has a heart. Fresh images and data are piling in from NASA’s historic close encounter with the dwarf planet, and it’s all amazing. Today’s big news is the existence of these 3300m mountains:

It seems they’re made of ice. But there’s also evidence of volcanoes and geysers, so not only does Pluto have two heart-shaped features on the outside, it’s warm inside. And bizarrely, it has no craters. But wait, wait – even its moon is much more interesting than our ball of grey dust. (And it’s called “Sharon”.)

8. Do you think you’re going to be extraordinarily successful? Then you’ll already recognise these five daily habits high achievers share. If you don’t, start practising today.

9. Here’s what it’s really like to work in an Apple store, from someone who did for two years, and what it takes to graduate from “Specialist” to “Genius”.

10. Condolences to one of the greats of the Australian music industry. Nick Cave lost his 15-year-old son Arthur this week after he fell from an 18m cliff in Brighton, England. Police are treating it as an accident.

BONUS ITEM: A great white shark beached itself in Cape Cod, the US east coast holiday haven most famous for being the place where Jaws was filmed. The shark was reportedly trying to eat seagulls.

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