Cyclone Yasi slammed into the north Queensland coast last night, with the communities of Mission Beach and Tully expected to be worst hit.
The cyclone has been downgraded from a category five to a category three, although it is still expected to have a significant impact, with 285 km/h winds and ocean surges cutting the power to nearly 90,000 homes.
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The cyclone is expected to have a severe inflationary impact upon bananas and sugar, while insurance giant Swiss Re has rated Australia as a more risky place to provide cover for due to recent extreme weather events.
Home builders expecting tough year
Australia’s home building firms are expected to have a tough year, following a 0.6% drop in new home sales in December.
The Housing Industry Association expects the market to dip by 9% this year, blaming rising interest rates for the downturn.
Facebook warned over privacy
Facebook has come under pressure from two major US Congress members over its privacy settings. Representatives Joe Barton, a Republican, and Edward Markey, a Democrat, have contacted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to express concern over the site’s plans to share user addresses and phone numbers with developers and other websites.
Markey said: “Facebook needs to protect the personal information of its users to ensure that Facebook doesn’t become Phonebook.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 4.50 points to 12,044.66. The Australian dollar edged down slightly, but still remained above parity at 100.69 US cents.