1. Stocks in the US got crushed overnight, to have the Dow finish off 0.9% while the S&P 500 was down 0.9% and the Nasdaq off 1.3%. Oil continued its fall, with WTI crude trading below $US49 a barrel and Brent crude, the global benchmark, looking like it’s heading for $US50. Global bond yields are touching record lows, with the US 10-year falling below 2% and the German 30-year bund falling to as low as 1.137% – below the level of the famously low-yield Japanese equivalent.
2. It follows an ugly day on the Asian markets, with the Nikkei having its worst single day in 11 months, finishing down just over 3%. The Hang Seng was down 1% with the James Packer-linked Melco Crown getting crushed again, while Shanghai was flat. The ASX finished the day off 1.6%. The overnight action points to another likely fall today in Australian shares, with the SPI March futures contract down 21 points ahead of the open.
3. The Australian dollar rallied yesterday after trade figures showed the nation’s trade deficit was less than expected for November. But the battler has been falling again on the global markets overnight and was sitting at 0.8094 a short time ago.
4. Finally, some good news for iron ore. It’s at its highest price in a month thanks to speculation China will speed up $US1.1 trillion of infrastructure projects this year. Shipments to Qingdao of ore with 62 per cent rose to $US71.49, their highest price since December 5. And raw material opened 2015 with its biggest weekly gain in 18 months, after losing 47 per cent last year.
5. Stephen Fry is getting married. A happy day for the legendary British star of just about every great BBC comedy in the past 30 years, after he confirmed the news to his 8.36 million Twitter followers overnight. He will wed 27-year-old boyfriend Elliott Spencer at a register office at an as-yet undisclosed date. Congratulations, Melchie.
Oh. It looks as though a certain cat is out of a certain bag. I’m very very happy of course but had hoped for a private wedding. Fat chance!
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) January 6, 2015
6. The new Australian workers. The AFR reports companies will soon be able to bring foreign workers into Australia for up to a year without applying for 457 visas. They’re to be known as “short-term mobility” visas, available for “specialised work which may include intra-company transfers and foreign correspondents”. The new visa subclass would replce the existing category 400 visa which allows for six-week terms. Expect a big bust-up with the unions any minute now.
7. Wow. Nepal Airlines sacrificed a couple of goats in a bid to get their planes working. The BBC report the airline confirmed that in 2007, NA – rated one of the most dangerous airlines in the world – had been struggling to keep its Boeing 757-200 from suffering electrical malfunctions. When they thought they had it right, just to be sure, they dragged a couple of goats out onto the tarmac in front of it and killed them to appease Akash Bhairab, the Hindu god of sky protection. For the record, the flight made it safely to Hong Kong. Also for the record, the EU has banned NA from its airspace.
8. Microsoft’s surprise phone. The tech media world is still waiting for an amazing, top-shelf iPhone killer to be born out of Microsoft’s buyout of Nokia. In the meantime, here’s the soon-to-be-released Nokia 215:
What’s the punchline? About $35 and a battery that Microsoft claims will last for a month on a single charge. You can even Facebook and Twitter on it. Note to Apple (particularly those in the iPhone 5C development basement) – this is how you make a cheap phone which all those parts of the world outside the US might find useful.
9. NRL great busted. Jason Smith, a former State of Origin star and Australian representative for the Kangaroos, has been charged with trafficking cocaine. Having played in the NRL for almost two decades, Smith is considered of its legends. He won a premiership with the Canterbury Bulldogs, and also played for the Parramatta Eels, Canberra Raiders and North Queensland Cowboys. On Monday, he was busted following a six-month investigation which allegedly found Smith had transported 280g of the drug between June and December last year.
10. Virat Kohli’s captaincy is already under fire after just his second Test on the job. The Indian batting master showed promise under pressure when standing in for MS Dhoni in the First Test, but now Dhoni’s retired, stuff just got real for Kohli. His decision to send Australia in on a SCG highway yesterday saw no one surprised when the home team galloped to 2-348 at stumps. Kohli constantly switched his field around and at one stage, bowled his three seamers at the same end for consecutive one-over spells in desperation. Much tut-tutting over that one from the old boys in the box. If Shane Watson (61 not out) can’t reach just the fifth century of his Test career today, he’s a goner.
BONUS ITEM: There’s a councilman in Frederick County in the US state of Maryland named Kirby Delauter. It’s his name, but despite being an elected official, he wants to sue the local Frederick News-Post paper if they use it without asking him. Anywhere. There was only ever one reply to nonsense like that – 2015, here’s your early contender for Editorial of the Year.
BONUS BONUS ITEM: See if you can spot the extra “Kirby Delauter” in that column.
Good day. I’m on Twitter @FarkersFarkers.
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