10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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Settle in with your coffee — here’s your morning news.

1. What you need to know in markets. US stocks are set to close out 2018 well off their highs. US bond yields fluctuated in line with the risk-off sentiment, as benchmark US 10-year bonds edged higher to 2.88%. The pound is still battling Brexit uncertainty touching a 20-month low before making a slight recovery. Iron ore prices have fallen, with the benchmark now sitting at the lowest level since late November. Futures had a slight rise, however, likely due to the release of Chinese lending figures earlier in the day on Monday.
Sam Jacobs has more.

2. The Aussie dollar has gained ground against all other crosses despite continued uncertainty around Brexit, but it remains range bound by external markets. The AUD/USD hit a session high of .7224 in European trade. Trump’s remarks on a spending battle that could shut down government saw US stocks give up earlier gains, dragging the Aussie dollar lower as a consequence. However, like stocks, the Aussie rebounded towards the close.

Investing.comAUD/USD Hourly Chart

3. Business confidence has fallen. NAB’s latest business survey has shown confidence falling to +3, its lowest point in 2018. Business conditions have also fallen two points to +11.

Source: NAB

The Westpac-MI consumer sentiment report is due to be released at 10:30am AEDT.

4. Banks are making it harder to get a loan and being less transparent about it. The latest ACCC inquiry into residential lending shows that banks have a lot of discretion in mortgage pricing which makes it difficult to work out how much a mortgage costs. Silver lining? Many borrowers who negotiate with their bank can get a better deal.

5. US President Donald Trump has said he would be “proud” to shut down the government if Democrats would not help fund his proposed border wall between the US and Mexico. Trump took the opportunity during a photo-op to publicly debate federal spending ahead of the formal meeting. Talks became heated but Mike Pence, remembering that it was a photo-op after all, sat back and stayed quiet.

6. Samsung has released a new smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy A8S is a mid-range smartphone but it has some sleek new design elements to help integrate the selfie camera. The new design is rumoured to be a big hint towards the look and feel of the Samsung Galaxy S10.

7. Time magazine has named their person of the year. In a fitting tribute, Time has dedicated the 2018 cover to Jamal Khashoggi and other murdered or oppressed journalists. It is the first instance that Time has chosen someone who is no longer alive.

8. Why do you need a mentor? Some of the most successful people have mentors to help them determine “what success looks like” – something that isn’t really taught in school or on the job. This list reveals the top skills gained from partnering with an external mentor.

9. Is there hope for the US-China trade war? All tweets point to yes — but an independent analyst has said “nearly every factual data point since the G-20 has been a net-negative on the US-China conflict”. On Tuesday, US officials had the first formal discussion since Trump announced a 90-day truce. More here.

10. The dawn of the new millennium was nearly 20 years ago. Here’s 20 changes since 1999, a neat reminder about how far technology has come. But we’re also here to make you feel old for remembering the Y2K bug and hiring videos from Blockbuster.

Vale: Intelligencer Journal

BONUS ITEM: This photo of a rare Australian Sea-lion pup born at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo last month is sure to make you smile.

Source: Taronga Zoo/Facebook.

The zoo is currently offering the opportunity for people to name the seal. But rather than making the same mistake of other public naming competitions, you can only choose from two names: Arno, after a beach on Kangaroo Island, and Torre, a tribute to a long-serving staff member.

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