Finance news you need to know today

HERE are nine things making news in business and finance around the world today.

1. SYDNEY— The Australian dollar has hit a two-month high following a strong bounce back in commodity prices. At 7am, the local unit was trading at 72.28 US cents, up from 71.74 cents yesterday.

2. SYDNEY— The Australian share market has opened higher after strong gains on Wall Street following a surge in oil and other commodity prices. At 10.10am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 18.6 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 5,019.8, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 18.4 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 5,075.0.

3. LONDON— The British pound plunged against other major currencies on Monday as Prime Minister David Cameron tried to shore up support for remaining in the European Union when the UK holds a referendum in June.

4. LONDON— British factory orders weakened slightly further in February after a sharper fall in January and manufacturers expect to cut their prices in the coming months, an industry survey shows.

5. HARARE— The Zimbabwean government will now control all mining in the diamond-rich Marange area, after mining companies were ordered to halt all operations because their licences have expired.

6. HONG KONG— London-based bank HSBC says it it is among a number of firms being investigated by US authorities over the hiring of people connected to Asian governments, raising the risk of more expensive legal issues.

7. NEW YORK— Verizon says it will pay $US1.8 billion ($A2.5 billion) to buy the fibre-optic network business of XO Communications, in a deal that the wireless phone company said would boost the networks of its customers.

8. NEW YORK— Sysco Corp, the largest US food distributor, is to buy London-based food distributor Brakes Group from Bain Capital Private Equity in a transaction valued at about $US3.1 billion ($A4.3 billion) to strengthen its presence in Europe.

9. WASHINGTON— Apple Inc has called for the creation of a government commission or panel of experts on encryption to help resolve the standoff over national security and data privacy.