10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Quinn Rooney/Getty ImagesMembers of the Cameroon team arrive during the Opening Ceremony for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Good morning.

1. Tensions rise over Syria. US President Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet overnight by telling Russia to prepare for a US missile strike on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack blamed on the Syrian government. Such a strike would call on the US’s most high-end platforms and present one of the most difficult military challenges on Earth. Russia’s navy has responded to the warning and appears to be readying for a naval battle with the US near Syria. There are also reports that UK Prime Minister Theresa May believes there is an “urgent” need for the UK to respond, and reportedly plans to join US military action in Syria — without a Parliamentary vote.

2. News of the geopolitical turmoil has helped send US stocks lower at the close after swaying back and forth during the session. Meanwhile, the tensions are also expected to weigh on the Australian share market, with futures pointing to a 19-point loss at the open.

3. The US Federal Reserve maintained its forecast for two more rate hikes this year, following speculation on whether budding inflation would push it toward raising its outlook to three more increases. The minutes showed Fed officials were confident inflation would return to their 2% target as tax cuts and increased government spending provide a boost to the economy. Along with that, most Federal Reserve officials see US trade rifts with China as a downside risk for the economy. More here.

4. Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by US Congress in his second day of testimony, after five hours of testimony on Tuesday. Questioning on Wednesday was considerably more aggressive and informed. During the hearing, Zuckerberg admitted that even he had his personal Facebook data scraped by Cambridge Analytica, and explained how Facebook makes money from your data. See it here:

5. Australian venture capital investment hit $130.5 million across 16 transactions in the three months to March, according to analysis by KPMG. Significant deals included graphic-design website Canva’s $US40 million Series C funding round, which valued the Sydney-based startup at $US1 billion.

6. Immigration has driven most of Australia’s jobs growth over the past decade, especially in the past five years, outpacing employment growth among those already living in each state. This is shown in an interesting chart from RBA governor Philip Lowe’s speech to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce yesterday. It reveals the percentage increase in total state employment growth over the past decade, breaking it down by jobs created by net overseas migration, net interstate migration and for people already living in each state.

Source: RBA

7. Missing Cameroon athletes raise questions. Five boxers and three weightlifters from the Central African country on the Gulf of Guinea have gone missing from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Village, with some failing to turn up to their competition events this week. While the team’s chef de mission made the announcement yesterday, Australian police said they had not been reported as missing and police were not searching for any athletes. Commonwealth Games officials also said the competitors had not breached their visas and were free to move around Australia, and that it was a matter for Cameroon team officials.

8. Legendary Australian winemaker David Lowe is fighting to save his 180-year-old family farm, with a crowdfunding campaign following a bitter fallout from a business relationship turned sour. His partner in Lowe Wines put both the winery and farmland in the hands of receivers last week, and on Friday, Lowe was stood down, mid-harvest, as winery manager, along with his son. Lowe and his wife chef Kim Currie have set up a GoFundMe page seeking $500,000 by today, April 12.

9. Another Starc strikes. Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc’s younger brother Brandon won gold in the high jump at the Commonwealth Games last night. Starc’s 2.32m jump also earned him a new PB and moved him to No. 2 on the Australian all-time list with Tim Forsyth the only Australian to have made a higher jump. The “super proud” cricketer took to Twitter to celebrate his brother’s victory.


10. That’s not a toy? A 1.2m red belly black snake has been found curled with a child’s toy collection in a home south-west of Brisbane. “Luckily the little girl wasn’t in the room at the time, obviously could of been a very dangerous situation,” said the snake catcher, adding that it was “hard to say how long it had been in the house or the room for”.

Have a great day.

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