Good morning. Here’s what’s happening on the final working Friday of 2014.
1. In Asia yesterday, the Nikkei and Hang Seng rose on the back of renewed confidence that the US Fed will hold rates for the next few months, with the Nikkei Average up 2.32%, and the Hang Seng, 1.09%. Shanghai fell slightly, down 0.1%, but still sits at 3058. The Yen’s continued weakness as the US dollar pushes higher is makes Japanese goods more competitive and stock traders happy.
2. Locally, Santa thinks futures traders have been nice this year and a strong day is expected. The SPI 200 March contract is up 69 points to 5,231 in overnight trade.
3. Summer! Cicadas! Heat! Cricket! Purists snub the Big Bash League, but it’s great fun – the game’s version of a demolition derby. Unwanted English superstar Kevin Pietersen is out here playing for the Melbourne Stars and belted 66 runs from 46 balls in his debut last night. He knows how to entertain – and is worth watching, since he’s miked up and even wears a helmet cam.
4. People love spam! Or spam followers, at least, if the reaction to Instagram deleting millions of spam accounts is anything to go by. One account lost 100,000 followers in days. Thousands of users are complaining and angry, threatening to unfollow Instagram itself. Meanwhile, fake “official” messages are also spreading fear and loathing. We’ll stick to posting storm and cloud photos.
5. The way we shop is changing and that’s scary, not just for main street retailers, but even for a behemoth like Google. There are a couple of key trends emerging: in the past 30 months the number of mobile internet users surpassed desktop internet users, meanwhile searches on Amazon.com are up 73% year over year – 47% on desktops. Finding what you want on Google takes a few more steps than heading straight to Amazon and hitting the buy button. That translates into a not-so-merry Christmas for the search engine.
6. Sydney, you’re not just good looking. More than 4.5 million people live there and end a terrible week showing their hearts beat as one. The flowers in Martin Place are both extraordinary and deeply moving and for a city that sometimes seems a little selfish, it’s been both the worst of times and the best of times. The Dawson and Johnson families had their loved ones returned to themby the coroner last night. NSW Premier Mike Baird said a memorial to remember the victims will be built in Martin Place.
7. Wozzie is an Aussie. Steve Wozniak, the other half of the creative genius that became Apple, has become an Australian citizen and is buying a house in Sydney and plans to retire to the Apple Isle, aka Tasmania. “I want to be a distinguished part of this country and some day I may say I lived and died an Australian,” Woz said. Now he needs to choose a footy team.
8.What a funny old fellow is Rupert. The expat octogenarian billionaire media mogul is back in Australia and still merrily tweeting away. He copped it a bit when he congratulated The Daily Telegraph for capturing the “bloody outcome” of the Sydney siege, but offered no condolences to the bereaved. Yesterday, he went faux sky-diving in western Sydney and posted a photo. The look on his face is priceless.
9. As thoughts turn to holidays, Alex Heber had the chance to visit the Emirates Airlines-owned luxury resort and spa, Wolgan Valley, nestled in the western foothills of the Blue Mountains. Even at $2000 a night, she was impressed, especially because she never heard the word no. Her now-fiance was simply relieved when he popped the question and she didn’t say no either. Read all about it here.
10. Are you getting any work done or just internet shopping for Christmas? Either way, take a few minutes to look at these 20 extraordinary photos from the 2014 National Geographic Photo Contest, including a Napoleon wrasse on the Great Barrier Reef.
BONUS ITEM: It’s summer holiday. Watching grass grow, and test cricket, is for wimps. The hot new trend for 2015 is watching beer brew, preferably while knocking back a coldie from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
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