10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Not bad for an old bloke… Switzerland’s Roger Federer shakes hands with Stan Wawrinka at their Australian Open semi-final. Photo: Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images

It’s Friday. And if you’re reading this at your desk at work, consider yourself a 1-percenter.

If you’re reading this on your phone on the beach, wish we were there.

Let’s do this.

1. US stocks are at record highs. If you missed it amid the beer and prawns, the Dow cracked 20,000 for the first time on Wednesday, but US stocks rally has since stalled. US fourth quarter GDP is out tonight and is forecast for a 2.2% increase.

2. The UK economy is doing OK Britain’s Q4 GDP grew faster than expected at 0.6% for Q4, putting the annual figure at 2.2%, which is 0.1 higher than expectations.

3. The Brexit bill is on the table. UK PM Theresa May published the bill parliament needs to approve to trigger Article 50 and set off the two-year exit process. And making a hard Brexit even harder, it turns out May plans to also abandon the European Economic Area, which gives some non-EU countries trading rights in Europe, potentially making life even tougher for Britain.

4. Tweetplomacy with Mexico. The Mexican president has cancelled a meeting with his new US counterpart after the latter hopped on Twitter to declare: “The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”

So Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, also jumped on Twitter to fulfil Donald Trump’s wish, saying: “This morning we have informed the White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the @POTUS”.

How long before they unfriend each other on Facebook?

5. The Doomsday Clock has ticked closer to midnight. Once a symbol of the Cold War and potential nuclear apocalypse, atomic scientists reset it at two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight, from three minutes, over concerns about climate change. It’s the closest we’ve got to the end of the world in 64 years.

6. George Soros got caught short. Making you reply all mistakes look like small change, the Dutch markets regulator accidentally published short positions held by hedge funds in the Netherlands on its website. Turns out Soros took a 0.3% short position on the ING bank in June 2016.

7. Pizza Hut has been underpaying its workers. The Fair Work Ombudsman has been checking the books at around 10% of the franchise chain’s stores and 90% failed to pay their workers properly, especially deliver drivers paid as little as $5.70. The audits took place in November 2015. Private equity business Allegro took control of the local licence last September and the FWO says its working well with them.

8. Domino’s shares are on a slide and it looks like a Sunday surcharge is partially to blame. The pizza market’s dominant player has seen its price drop 8.8% since January 8. The AFR reports a 10% surcharge on Sunday orders to partially cover the cost of a 25% pay rise for staff.

9. Dave Warner, you legend. The touring cricket season ended last night with Australian openers David Warner and Travis Head smashing records and sixes to set up another win against a valiant Pakistan in the final One Day game and finish the series 4-1. Warner belted a PB of 179 in 128 balls, Head 128 from 137, in an Australian record 284 run opening partnership (just two runs behind the world record) that lasted 42 overs. Australia 7-369 beat Pakistan 9-312 by 57 runs.

10. It’s the masters siblings open. The fairytale ended for a resurrected Mirjana Lucic-Baroni with the no. 2 seed, Serena Williams now set to face her sister, Venus, for the ninth time in Saturday’s final. And here’s a reminder of their longevity – they were last in that position at the Australian Open in 2003, while Serena is playing for her 9th title.

Also on the sibling front, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan, 38, will be on centre court on Saturday in their 10th Australian Open final. If they win, they’ll break Todd Woodbridge’s Grand Slam record of 16 victories.

And on the subject of veterans, Roger Federer, 35, beat countryman Stan Wawrinka to make his 7th Australian Open final and his first since 2010. He’s the oldest Grand Slam men’s finalist in 43 years.

BONUS ITEM: Three more sleeps until the kids are back at school! Just remember if you’re driving today, especially in NSW, that school zones are back in force today, Friday, with the bonus danger that it’s a double demerit points weekend.

Catch me on Twitter at @simonthomsen.

Have great day. See you Monday when the working year officially begins.

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