10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Skeleton 1MOLAAn archaeologist examines the skeleton.

Good morning.

1. The arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada was the catalyst for more volatility in global stocks overnight. The Dow slumped by 500 points, before US markets rallied sharply into the close, the Euro Stoxx 600 index dropped 3.3%, and Chinese tech stocks were sent sliding. Zhiwei Zhang, Deutsche Bank’s chief China economist, now says the probability of the US and China reaching a trade deal by March 1 “has dropped to 30% from 40%.”

2. The Australian dollar is still getting smoked, falling heavily for a second non-consecutive session on Thursday. The selloff on this occasion was sparked by heightened geopolitical risks, resulting in another ugly day for risk assets. At 8am AEDT, the Aussie was down 0.45% to 0.7235.

Investing.comAUD/USD Hourly Chart

3. The RBA could still cut rates if required — and is also prepared to use quantitative easing in a crisis. That’s according to the central bank’s deputy governor Guy Debelle, who said there is “still scope for further reductions in the policy rate” from its current record low of 1.5%. It comes after the bank has been saying all year that the next move in official interest rates is likely to be up. Paul Colgan has more.

4. The Morrison government’s controversial encryption legislation, which will allow law enforcement agencies to hack into encrypted message services, will pass into law after the Labor party scrapped plans to amend the legislation in the final hours of the Senate sitting for the final time in 2018. The astonishing capitulation by Labor caps a farcical day as Parliament concluded for the year. More to come.

5. Companies, take note: More than half of Australian workers fear losing their jobs due to the impact of technologies such artificial intelligence (AI) and automation — i.e. robots. Along with that, many feel they are not ready for the changes they expect over the next five years. Workforce experts say this is where companies need to focus on preparing their people and offer on the job learning.

6. The massive ocean cleanup device invented by a 24-year-old is running into problems in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It turns out plastic could be leaving the device after it has been caught because the contraption is moving too slowly. But not to worry, Dutch innovator Boyan Slat is optimistic about finding a solution soon. Meanwhile, here’s what it looks like:

7. The power of online shopping. Almost half of millennials say they’d rather give up sex than quit Amazon for a year, according to a new survey. And more than three in four millennials would choose Amazon over alcohol. Goes to show recent headlines clearly haven’t impacted shoppers’ obsession with the e-commerce giant.

8. A mysterious medieval skeleton wearing thigh-high boots was discovered lying face down in the muddy banks of the Thames River in London. It’s not the first ancient find to go viral this year. First, there was the definitely-not-cursed giant black sarcophagus, which was full of undrinkable red liquid. Then, there was the world’s oldest cheese, which turned out to be poisonous. And a 4,000-year-old tomb which was converted into a tourist attraction. All totally normal stuff here.

9. End 2018 in style by listening to a personalised playlist of the songs you listened to this year. Spotify’s annual Wrapped tool analyses your account and takes you on a beautiful audio tour of the year – starting with the first song you played in 2018 and ending with a playlist of your most-listened to tracks. You’re welcome.

10. Be thankful Barbara Corcoran isn’t your boss today. The US real-estate mogul who became a judge on Shark Tank secretly loved Fridays because, wait for it, it was the day she fired people. More here.

BONUS ITEM: Watch SpaceX save a 16-storey-tall rocket that tried to land on the ground, but plunged into the sea.

Have a great day.

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