10 Things You Need To Know This Morning In Australia

Kylo Ren and his Swiss Army lightsaber. Picture: Disney

Good morning!

Only three Fridays left for 2014 – make this one a winner.

1 – In Asia yesterday, it was a day of red ink with the Nikkei not too keen on the stronger yen. It dipped along with stocks in Hong Kong and Shanghai which came under pressure after an early rally. Locally, the impact of overnight trade has been fairly muted with the March SPI 200 contract down just 6 points to 5,181 after yesterday losing ground on the physical market. At the close, the Nikkei was down 0.89% to 17,257, the Hang Seng down 0.90% to 23,313 and the Shanghai was down 0.49% to 2,926.

On the data front, the retail sales in China today is going to be huge as an indicator of where the economy is at presently.

2 – The Aussie made a fresh four-and-a-half year low overnight at 0.8213 before rallying back to 0.8252. That’s still not enough for RBA governor Glenn Stevens, who doubled down on his desire a year ago to see it hit 85c. He now wants it at 75c. Stevens said that Australia’s terms of trade, while “historically high still” were “falling further and faster, than was assumed a year back.”

And if I had to pick a figure now, I would say probably 75 is better than 85.

3 – And then he really went nuclear. The Reserve Bank governor was interviewed in today’s AFR and doesn’t hold back. Stevens tipped a bucket on Australian politicians for an overly-simplistic “surplus good, deficit bad” approach to debate around the budget, urged politicians to get serious about fiscal policy, and called for an end to slogans and name-calling in Canberra. The Aussie got smashed on the currency markets overnight based on his 75c comments – now if only he could have the same direct effect on certain Senators.

4 – This weather. It’s been a frankly horrible December so far for Sydneysiders, although the lightning was spectacular. Looking ahead, it’s trying to warm up in time for Christmas, and the winds are easing. Melbourne’s up and down and Brisbane just had another shocking storm sweep in – the worst hail for 30 years and 22,000 lightning strikes, by some reports. But it doens’t matter how bad it gets, it’s still not the UK, where even waterfalls are giving up:

5 – That time Tony Abbott was popular. A Fairfax poll this month had Abbott’s disapproval rating rising to 57%. He also trails Opposition leader Bill Shorten (47%) by eight points as preferred prime minister (39%). But they love him in Ukraine, according to its President Petro Poroshenko. Poroshenko is in Australia to talk trade and build on the good will that was forged over the MH17 tragedy, as well as deliver some rare good news to the embattled PM. “I told him that he’s one of the most popular foreign politicians in Ukraine,” Poroshenko said.

6 – But don’t take aim at Abbott’s chief of staff. The PM is sick of anonymous ministers and backbenchers taking a shot at Peta Credlin and said they needed to “take a long hard look at themselves”. He even went down the path of “if they’ve got a problem, they can come to me” before telling the ABC that there was more than a hint of sexism about the criticism of Credlin holding too much political clout with this quote:

“Do you really think my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was Peter as opposed to Peta?”

7 – Will you be replaced by a robot? The Federal Department of Industry has released the inaugural Australia Industry Report, a unique insight into the two million businesses which make up Australian industry. One of the more interesting sections deals with what jobs will become obselete with automation. Take a look at the chart below:

The report says it’s not just low-skilled jobs at risk, either. The works of pharamacists, doctors and lawyers can all be replicated and improved upon by robots. One recently “has even been appointed as director to an investment board”.

8 – Names of the new Star Wars characters. Without George Lucas, you don’t don’t get any Dookus or Jar Jars. Nope, The Force Awakens is swathed in that wannabe cool, yet weirdly sterile JJ Abrams swagger. The extremely marketable spinning ball robot is named BB-8, the Sith wielding the dumbest lightsaber ever is called Klyo Ren and there’s an X-wing pilot named Poe Dameron, which toplessrobot.com excellently noted was just one letter away from being Cameron Poe, aka Nicolas Cage from Con Air. So that’s one win.

9. We know Sydney’s a hot property market in a country uncomfortably full of hot property markets. But it seems the squeeze is actually a global problem. We’ve put together a list of the top 16 markets based on year-over-year, inflation-adjusted price performance as of the third quarter. Australia’s up there with around a 9% increase year-on-year, but you’re a happy homeowner in Ireland (14%), Turkey (17%) and Dubai, where stocks rose an astonishing 27.32%.

10. What to be seen eating next year, as opposed to what you actually would enjoy eating. International Food & Restaurant Consultants, Baum + Whiteman, have sent out their 2015 trend report, dispensing their advice to restaurants and hotels for their 2015 menus. Top of the pops are pistachios, in any form, followed by Pimm’s, iced lattes, shaved ice and bitter “everything”. Also, insects inside protein bars, which is about bloody time if you ask us.

BONUS ITEM: The most Victorian altercation ever. Really, the only winners here are, well, just about everyone who isn’t a cyclist or carriage fancier.

Have a great weekend. I’m on Twitter, occasionally.

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