10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Hafthor Bjornsson as ‘The Mountain’. Picture: HBO.

Good morning.

1. It’s data day! The Reserve Bank of Australia will announce its March interest rate decision later today but few think the cash rate will move from 1.5%. Retail sales figures for January are also due from the ABS at 11:30am AEDT. It is likely to reflect the strengthening of spending in the early parts of 2018. Along with that there’s also balance of trade data including the reading for net exports — a key indicator ahead of tomorrow’s Q4 GDP release. Fun times ahead.

3. The Dow gained nearly 350 points, to close up 1.42% at 24,887, despite US President Donald Trump saying that “we’re not backing down” on his proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

4. Italy’s hung parliament could produce a nightmare scenario for the EU with no party or coalition gaining a majority in Sunday’s election. The Five Star Movement has emerged as the party with the most votes, and it could form a coalition with the Northern League. Such an alliance would leave Italy in the hands of a Eurosceptic, anti-establishment, and anti-immigrant coalition.

5. A former Russian spy is critically ill in a British hospital after being exposed to a mystery substance, according to the BBC. The UK broadcaster reported that Sergei Skripal, 66, fell ill at a shopping centre in Salisbury, south England on Sunday. Skripal was granted asylum in Britain after being pardoned by Russia in a 2010 “spy swap” deal with the US, under which 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI were released. He was jailed by Moscow for 13 years after passing on the identities of Russian intelligence agents working in Europe to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

6. Oscars, Oscars, Oscars. Margot Robbie may have been robbed of the Best Actress award at the Academy Awards yesterday for her performance in I, Tonya but actual Best Actress winner Frances McDormand really did have her trophy stolen during the Governor’s Ball. The Los Angeles Police Department arrested a suspect named Terry Bryant who is being charged with grand theft.

7. Forget Amazon, Costco is set to build one of the biggest distribution centres in Australia as part of its ambitious 10-year growth strategy. The US retail giant is splurging $78 million on the development which will be equivalent in size to about 17 Olympic soccer fields. Based in western Sydney’s Kemps Creek, the facility is expected to generate about 1,000 jobs.

8. Talk about OH&S. Apple employees have called 911 three times this year because people have walked into glass walls at the company’s new $US5 billion headquarters in California. But someone in Apple’s marketing department may have been trying to subtly get the word out sooner. Check out this ad that first aired back in September, where someone walks into Apple’s “most durable glass ever”. (It happens around the 13 second mark.)

9. Vocus has called on an Australian telco legend to help it get moving again. Former Telstra chair and founding Optus CEO Bob Mansfield has become the independent chairman of the troubled telco. Vocus CEO Geoff Horth parted ways with the company last week after a December report which showed net profit after tax was down 21% to $37.3 million. Vocus shares started climbing almost immediately after the announcement of Mansfield’s appointment.

10. Talk about pushing your body to its limit. A 37-year-old Russian weightlifter was left with blood exploding from his nose after attempting to lift 425kg during the 2018 Arnold Sports Festival. Despite his efforts, it wasn’t enough to win the event. Instead it was Hafthor Bjornsson, known by many as “The Mountain” from Game Of Thrones, who took out the competition with a world-record deadlift of 472kg.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O82GETwPstU

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Have a great day.

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