10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

OK everybody – the bet’s on. Picture: Getty Images

Here we go.

1. The spill is on. Tony Abbott pulled a “let’s get this over with” call on the dissenters in his own ranks, and will face a vote on his leadership this morning. He’s made a couple of cagey moves, too, urging his members to not “drag themselves down to the level” of Labor in ousting a first-term PM and giving them a secret ballot, so no one has to show their hand. Regardless of the outcome, Abbott told the ABC last night he was already “significantly chastened” by the motion.

UPDATE: He’s still the leader – 61 for, 39 against.

2. Whatever the outcome, the leadership team needs to regain the confidence of Australian business and consumers. Even under the previous government, Australian consumer confidence was holding above its long-run average, but a spike back to 2012 highs has been eroded with each election promise jettisoned by Abbott and Co.

3. To the markets, where the ASX SPI 200 futures for March were up 6 points when they closed Saturday morning. But appalling Chinese trade data might weigh today. Both exports (-3.3%) and imports (-19.9%) were lower, with the import data showing the biggest fall since the depths of the GFC in 2009.

4. On currency markets, the US dollar was stronger. But, as the NAB’s co-head of FX Strategy wrote this morning, the “surprise” in Friday’s non-farm payrolls was that the USD closed below its 2015 highs in USD index terms. That “strengthens our conviction that while we remain constructive on the dollar, we should not be raging bulls”. But early Asian trade in Sydney this morning has the US dollar strengthening again with the euro at 1.1288, GBP at 1.5211, USDJPY at 119.11 and the Aussie dollar at 0.7758.

5. It’s a busy week data-wise, kicking off with a speech from the RBA governor today. Also released this week are the January NAB Business Index on Tuesday, February’s Westpac Consumer Sentiment Index on Wednesday and then the January jobs data for Australia on Thursday. The market is only expecting a rise of 5,000 jobs at the moment. Here’s Westpac’s excellent data calendar of all the key events this week in global markets.

6. The first episode of Australia’s Shark Tank aired on Channel Ten last night and it was pretty underwhelming. The best pitch was from a couple of guys who stuck some cricket stumps on a cooler and netted $80K and $200K loan from RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson in return for a 20% stake. The worst was Toowoomba resident Darren Smith, who wanted $2.5m for a 40% stake in Rent Resume, a subscription service for tenants who want a rental history report. But we’re all for HamDog here.

7. Here’s a bunch of other startups going the hard yards. Telstra incubator Muru-D is taking its latest round of recruits not to the US, but China, in a bid to mix things up a bit and avoid the start-up crowds. “We looked at this year and realised that a number of our companies had Asia value propositions,” Muru-D’s entrepreneur in residence Mick Liubinskas said. Among the pitchers is retrofit energy savers WattBlock, 3D-printed surfboard maker Disrupt and long-haul logistics company Freight Exchange. Startups fund their own trip but Muru-D organises introductions and the itinerary.

8. There’s a new kid on the blockie circuit, driving Mad Max’s Interceptor. Well, a replica, but an extremely good one. WA enthusiast Brad Promnitz put his ode to the Road Warrior on eBay last week and it fetched $51,100 at final bid yesterday, to an eBayer with a history of buying collectibles. We’ll have more on how Brad feels about parting with his beloved Pursuit later.

Picture: Emilee-Jane Richardson

9. The oil price crash has meant slashed budgets, staff layoffs and mothballed projects for big producers, but oil traders will celebrate their best market for years this week. It’s International Petroleum Week in London and the list of parties from the big players is longer than ever. “I haven’t been more positive about trading conditions since 2009,” said one trading house head. “I see contango in the market…” “Contango” is industry jargon for “good times”, such as when you can buy a barrel of oil and current prices say it will be worth sitting on for 10 months.

10. Most people know three things about Bill Gates. Here’s 13 others that most people don’t, including how he gamed his school’s scheduling system so he could share classes with a “disproportionate number of interesting girls”.

BONUS ITEM: Leadership – pah. Who cares when even those pulling together the broadsheet right at the heart of the biggest news in Canberra for nearly two-and-a-half years can find more space for their bosses’ new streaming service? It’s not quite “Independent. Always.”

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