10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

IMDbThe Chinese yuan is influencing the direction of the dollar.

Good morning.

1. The Australian dollar is higher – presumably because the Chinese yuan is too, after trade talks between the United States and China resumed. At 8am AEDT, the Aussie was up 0.52% to 0.7167.

Thomson ReutersAUD/USD (White, LHS) v USD/CNH (Orange, RHS, Inverted) 5-Minute Chart

2. On the other hand, the RBA is getting anxious about the housing downturn. At its February meeting, it noted: “if prices were to fall much further, consumption could be weaker than forecast, which would result in lower GDP growth, higher unemployment and lower inflation than forecast”. More here.

3. Approvals for foreign investment in Australia’s housing market plunge again. The steep drop in approvals has contributed to the steep falls in apartment prices in Australia’s major capital cities. David Scutt has more.

4. Revenues at Europe’s biggest bank HSBC collapsed at the end of 2018 and it’s blaming Trump’s trade war with China. The bank saw revenues of $US53.8 billion over the course of 2018, up 5% from 2017. But they were $US1 billion below the analyst consensus: $US54.7 billion. “Given the trade uncertainty, that’s not surprising, but, yes, we’re seeing a reduction in the rate of growth,” HSBC CEO John Flint told the Financial Times.

5. Set an alarm for 11.30am AEDT. That’s when Australia’s December quarter Wage Price Index is set to be released. Given the implications for household spending, broader economic growth, labour market conditions and the outlook for inflation and official interest rates, the WPI is now arguably the most important data release in Australia, especially at time when financial markets are fully priced for the RBA to cut Australia’s cash rate by the middle of next year. Get up to date with what you need to know ahead of the data dump with this 10-second guide.

6. Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10 smartphone is being announced tomorrow. Some of the rumoured changes include a total redesign, improved cameras, and new bleeding-edge features. Here’s what else you can expect.

YouTube/91mobilesA render of the Galaxy S10 based on rumours and leaks, made in collaboration with popular gadgets leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer.

7. Karl Lagerfeld has died at age 85. The fashion designer famously refused to retire.
“Why should I stop working? If I do, I’ll die and it will all be finished,” he said in 2012. Until his death, Lagerfeld worked as creative director at Chanel, Fendi, and his namesake fashion brand.

8. Soros Fund Management just disclosed its holdings of publicly traded companies in the fourth quarter, giving investors can enjoy a window into the activities of its founder, legendary investor George Soros. Here are the holdings he exited and others he poured money into.

9. Richard Branson is preparing to turn the cruise industry upside down with his new adults-only cruise line, Virgin Voyages. The cruise line is doing away with buffets, tips, single-use plastics, and will provide free WiFi for all. More here.

10. The winners of the inaugural World Restaurant Awards have been revealed. Overall “Restaurant of the Year” was taken out by Wolfgat in Paternoster, South Africa, who was also the winner of the “Off-Map Destination” category. The 20-seat fine-dining restaurant specialises in local seafood and indigenous plants foraged from the Western Cape such as dune spinach and soutslaai. Here’s a look at the rest of the winners.

BONUS ITEM: Close call.

“It’s all part of what goes on down here,” said McGuire.

Have a great day.

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