Good morning – and welcome to Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- The US markets took an absolute beating overnight after data showed a dramatic slowdown in American manufacturing in January, and amid continuing concern about emerging markets unwinding. Futures are pointing to the ASX being down almost 2% at the open, which would wipe over $20 billion off the value of stocks. The RBA meets today, and while there’s no change in interest rates likely, the market will be looking at the accompanying statement and the Statement of Monetary Policy later in the week for pointers on the board’s thinking on the outlook for the year ahead.
- Bill Shorten is digging in with support for unions in the ongoing turmoil surrounding government assistance for struggling industries.
- It’s only three days before the Winter Olympics get underway in Sochi and Aussie snowboarder Torah Bright is pointing to risks in the construction of the course for the Slopestyle event after a Norwegian competitor was injured on the course yesterday. Reports of corruptions surrounding the games in Russia have been depressingly commonplace – Bright’s concern is for the safety of the competitors on the track because of shoddy construction.
- The Prime Minister is organising a trade mission with like-minded state premiers to Asia in April, reports The Australian. It will coincide neatly with the anticipated installation of Coalition premiers in Tasmania and South Australia, following elections in both states in mid-March.
- Ian Thorpe’s father has confirmed his son is being treated for depression, after the Olympian was found by police disoriented outside his home, in his car, which he thought was his friend’s. Perhaps most bizarrely his manager has said there was no alcohol involved.
- A suspected Nigerian scammer has been arrested in over the alleged defrauding of a Perth woman who was found dead last year in South Africa. The 28-year-old, Orowo Jesse Omokoh, is accused of defrauding Jette Jacobs of more than $100,000 through a staged online romance which ended with her going to South Africa thinking she was going to marry him.
- ABC managing director Mark Scott appeared on ABC radio’s PM program last night to discuss the controversy over the broadcaster’s recent coverage of stories that have drawn criticism from the Prime Minister, including some asylum seekers’ allegations of mistreatment by navy personnel. The transcript is here, in which Scott stands by the stories. ABC TV’s Media Watch last night concluded the broadcaster had got the asylum seeker story wrong, and should correct it.
- Construction magnate Daniel Grollo has appointed Carolyn Viney his replacement as CEO of his company Grocon. Grollo will move to the role of executive chairman.
- A World Health Organisation report out this morning names cancer as the leading cause of death in Australia, and around the world. Cancer’s prevalence over heart disease as a leading cause of death has been rising in Australia for some years – the ageing population and improved screening has led to a high overall increase in the number of cases. But there are some confronting figures nonetheless.
- Analysis by The Australian Financial Review shows how IT is falling behind science, technology, engineering and mathematics in terms of university student intake. . There are some obvious concerns about skills shortages in the sector that arise out of this – although Professor Justin Zobel from UM points out that IT skills have become commoditised – by the time they reach uni age, prospective students may have already been coding for 10 years and don’t think they’ll get much out of a degree.
Bonus item: It never gets old: footage of TV anchors not knowing the camera’s on. Today, Channel 7’s Jacqueline Felgate.
Have a great day. I’m on Twitter: @colgo
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