10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

20th Century FoxMatt Damon in ‘The Martian’.

Good morning.

1. US President Donald Trump says he struck a preliminary deal with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to ease trade tensions and avoid a full-blown trade war with the European Union. The EU agreed to import more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas, while both sides will work to decrease industrial tariffs and adjust regulations to allow US medical devices to be traded more easily in European markets. The Dow Jones industrial average spiked by almost 140 points after the news broke, ending the day nearly 0.7% higher.

2. The Australian dollar popped higher in late trade on Wednesday, reversing earlier losses to close at a two-week high. Progress in easing trade tensions between the US and EU, along with signs that policymakers are rolling out more measures to support the Chinese economy, helped to push risk assets higher. At 7am AEST, the Aussie was up 0.44% to 0.7453.

Investing.comAUD/USD Hourly Chart

3. Fairfax and Nine are merging. The new entity of the combined newspaper group and television network will be led by Nine’s current CEO, Hugh Marks. Read the details as they land here.

4. Macquarie CEO Nicholas Moore is out. Macquarie Bank announced this morning that Moore will retire in November with Shemara Wikramanayake, currently the group head of Macquarie Asset Management, to assume his role.

5. Facebook closed at an all-time high, but shares in the tech giant slumped more than 20% in after-hours trade after Q2 revenue missed forecasts. The disappointing numbers highlight the bind the company is in while it attempts to please both growth-hungry investors and a disillusioned userbase following a chain of scandals.

6. Scientists from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Bologna may have found a lake of liquid water on Mars. Satellite data suggests the water might lie underneath the surface of a polar ice cap. The researchers used radar to probe the ice cap, and their new study suggests the potential lake could be 20km long. And if it exists, there’s also hope that the water could potentially host life.

7. A write-down of the NBN now appears inevitable and prices for internet access will fall, according to S&P Global Ratings. And the market upheaval caused by the NBN isn’t over yet, with mobile operators likely to be pushed into investing heavily in their own network infrastructure. This prolonged infrastructure arms race would stretch balance sheets and ultimately force industry consolidation. Chris Pash has more.

8. Calm down and carry on. New Zealand’s acting prime minister — who is in charge while Jacinda Arden is on maternity leave — is stirring up controversy and accusing Australia of copying his country’s national flag. “We had a flag that we’ve had for a long time, copied by Australia, and they should actually change their flag and honour the fact that we got there first with this design,” said Winston Peters. The New Zealand flag was adopted in 1902, while Australia’s flag was adopted 52 years later on 1954.

9. Action on crypto exchanges is heating up as the price of bitcoin, the largest digital currency, approaches $US8,500 a coin. Bitcoin, which spent much of 2018 in the doldrums, has seen its price soar by nearly $US1,000 over the last week, reaching a two-month high on Tuesday. At last check, the cryptocurrency was trading at $US8,217 a coin. And that, according to Bitcoin bull Tom Lee, is a sign the market bottom for bitcoin is behind us.

10. Young people today who dream of being the next Elon Musk may be victims of “entrepreneurship porn” in that they’re lured into launching their own companies, when in reality they might be better off joining a more established organisation. Either that, or they have been infected with a parasite found in cat poo that has been linked to a higher likelihood of entrepreneurial behaviour.

BONUS ITEM: Is this book from 1995 written by astrophysicist Carl Sagan a crystal ball for our future?

Have a great day.

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