10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning. Let’s get smarter.

1. China is bankrolling the world. It’s investments abroad are massive, amounting to $US870 billion at the end of last year, verging on surpassing the amount it invests inside its own borders. Here’s where it’s funneling the cash:

Note the $30-odd billion in Australia, a major part of China’s biggest foreign investment portfolio – energy. It’s a trend that will change the world, says Stefano Pozzebon, and don’t think becoming a country’s biggest creditor doesn’t come without the right to pull some strings, either.

2. It also just freed up another $96 billion. The People’s Bank of China eased policy overnight once again as it tries to reignite the stalling economy. The reduction of 50 basis points in the Reserve Requirement Ratio will reduce the amount of capital banks need to hold against their assets and free up around RMB600 billion into the banking system.

3. It didn’t have an immediate impact on Asian markets. Having preempted a massive stimulus program the day before, Shanghai shares fell 0.96%, 31 points to 3,174. In Japan, cracking results from Mitsubishi UFJ helped push the market up 1.98%, 343 points at 17,679. In Hong Kong, stocks were up 0.51% to 24,680.

4. Locally, with the pullback in the last 30 mins of trade the SPI 200 is now down 8 at 5,715. Futures traders had it at one stage up to 5,730 but the crash in oil looks like it may have some impact today. It’s worth noting Newcastle coal for March only dipped 40 cents a tonne – that’s a 10-day rally. On the data front, retail sales today in Australia will be very important and the market is expecting a rise of 0.4% in January. HIA new home sales are also out.

5. The Aussie is now back under 78 after being comfortably above before a euro swoon. It’s at 0.7761. GBP is a little lower than earlier but sits at 1.5202, USDJPY has dipped to 1.1727 and the euro is down 40 pips.

6. AirTree’s next big play. The $60m fund run by former Microsoft and Expedia execs has looked at around 230 companies since launching in Sydney last year. It’s first plump was $1.5 million for pet-sitting marketplace PawShake; now it’s on board with design crowdsourcing platform DesignCrowd. AirTree invested $4 million in leading a $6 million series B capital round into DesignCrowd, a small but growing player in the $44 billion design industry.

7. The Mountain is the strongest Viking ever. You might know Hafthor Bjornsson from his eye-popping role on Game of Thrones. But in real life, he’s real strong. He just broke a 1000-year-old record for carrying a 650kg log on his back. The last time someone tried it – Viking legend Orm Storulfsson – he broke his back. The Mountain, not so much:

8. Murdoch is on the nose in Saudi Arabia, where Kingdom Holding, the investment firm owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, just sold most of its stake in media giant News Corp. A portfolio review fingered News Corp as the best asset from which to pull back $240 million, reducing Kingdon’s stake from 5.6 per cent to one per cent.

9. Dumb? Never fear, here’s 9 ways which will help you at least appear smarter. Wear glasses, obviously, but make them thick-rimmed ones. And science says people are easily impressed by a middle initial and will treat you differently because of it. Sadly, you also have drink beer privately. (So, yeah, I’m with stupid.)

10. Condoms in Venezuela now cost as much as iPhones in the US. True story.

BONUS ITEM: Aussie pro golfer Richard Green scored a hole-in-one. On a par four.

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