10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Matthew DeBord/ Business Insider

Good morning.

1. Trade war fears still linger, with China now threatening to impose tariffs on $US60 billion worth of US goods in response to US President Trump’s latest trade threat. It now seems there’s no end in sight for the tit-for-tat trade war because “both sides are more inclined to elevate tension than blink”.

2. The Australian dollar is holding steady after rallying back towards US74 cents on Friday. Meanwhile, both the euro and the pound remain under pressure this morning. The Aussie is up 0.54 to 0.7400.

3. Eighty-two people are dead after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Lombok last night. The epicentre is near where a previous earthquake hit last week, killing 16 people. Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who is in Lombok for a counter-terrorism meeting, told Fairfax Media the quake “was powerful enough to put us on the floor”.

4. A confidential UN report argues that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs” and continues to engage in illicit activities in violation of UN sanctions resolutions. In recent weeks, North Korea has been spotted engaging in activities that cast doubt on its commitment to denuclearise. But North Korean officials insist the country is committed to upholding the provisions of the Singapore agreement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June.

5. The household finances of Australians are at a tipping point. Australians are increasingly dipping into savings, as their wages stagnate, to cover the rising cost of living. The 14th edition of ME Bank’s biannual Household Financial Comfort Report shows the biggest financial worry of 53% of households is the cost of necessities including fuel and utilities. And about a quarter of Australian households have less than $1,000 in cash savings.

6. Australia’s superannuation system is under pressure: it’s in the spotlight in the Hayne royal commission this week, and was recently lambasted by the Productivity Commission which said Australians were being bamboozled and losing vast sums of money to high fees and unnecessary charges. Today Business Insider publishes a breakdown of the $3.4 billion in charges to members of Australia’s top 20 super funds, revealing — amongst other costs — the surprisingly high fees that go to super fund directors and trustees. And a bonus: if you want to know how much your super fund pays its directors and charges for expenses, we’ve also got a searchable database that contains the details, as published by the prudential regulator APRA, of Australia’s biggest superannuation funds. Check it out here.

7. Bitcoin is never coming back, according to Goldman Sachs. Its investment strategy group says the price of bitcoin is likely to decline even further than the 45% it has in the first seven months of 2018. It also says the virtual currency meets none of the three definitions of usable money and makes up just 0.3% of global GDP. It comes as Bitcoin slumped below $US7,000 over the weekend.

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8. What’s going on with Elon Musk? From his tweets about the Thai cave rescue, his comments during a Tesla earnings call, and sleeping at the Tesla factory, Musk’s recent actions have raised questions from investors and the public. Read Business Insider’s breakdown here.

9. If the yield curve is not an indicator of impending doom, why is everybody talking about the yield curve so much? That’s the question being asked by Business Insider’s Jim Edwards. Read his insights on how the curve has been distorted by central banks’ bond-buying programs, which have artificially made the curve flatter than it might have been, and why he’s going to keep watching it while “the rest of you can do whatever you like”.

10. The new high-performance Model 3 is the best Tesla yet. With two motors and a top speed of 250km/h, the $105,400 Model 3 Performance is completely brilliant. Read Business Insider’s review of the new car here, and we’ll leave you with the words of senior correspondent in the US, Matthew DeBord:

“I’ve driven every Tesla the company has built, and my longtime favourite is the original Roadster, no longer in production.

“Well, it was my favourite. That honour now goes to the P3D.”

BONUS ITEM: We can’t stop watching this.

Have a great day.

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