10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

The Australian Defence Force/ SuppliedAustralian Naval ship during training exercise at sea.

Good morning.

1. AMP’s CEO is out. Craig Meller is stepping down effective immediately as the financial giant apologies for its conduct revealed in the Financial Services Royal Commission. “AMP apologises unreservedly for the misconduct and failures in regulatory disclosures in the advice business,” the company said. It comes as pressure mounts on AMP chairman Catherine Brenner to also resign.

2. US stocks closed lower for the first time this week on Thursday, dragged down by the tech-focused NASDAQ index, which dipped by as much as 1.2% before closing 0.78% lower. It came off the back of concerns about the slowing global demand for smartphones. That saw ASX200 futures traders mark the local index down slightly. ASX futures were 10 points lower at 7.40am AEST. The Australian dollar shed 0.7 per cent.

3. Three Australian warships were confronted by Chinese military while sailing through the South China Sea earlier this month, on their way to Vietnam for a three-day goodwill visit. The confrontations are believed to have occurred as China conducted its largest ever naval exercises in the region. One official described the exchanges as “robust” but polite. Following the ABC report, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull did not confirm or deny the event but said Australia has the “perfect right” to sail its fleet through the South China Sea.

4. Here come the bank mega-sanctions. Today the federal government will announce new sanctions for financial institutions. New penalties will include:

  • Criminal convictions punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $945,000.
  • Companies could be fined up to $9.45 million or 10% of their turnover.
  • Civil breaches will carry fines of up to $1.05m for individuals and $210m for companies.
  • It comes as community outrage grows at the flagrant misconduct in banks and wealth management firms being exposed at the Hayne Royal Commission. Yesterday it was revealed that CBA planners had billed dead clients for “advice” — one for a decade after they died.

    5. Queen Elizabeth has nominated Prince Charles as the next head of the Commonwealth. Her son, also heir to her throne, has also received the backing of the majority of member nations, including Australia. “It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations, and will decide that one day The Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” said the Queen, who has been on the throne and head of the Commonwealth for 68 years.

    6. Alexander Downer’s role in the FBI probe into Russia is likely to remain secret as the Australian Government refuses to “neither confirm nor deny” the existence of diplomatic cables used to relay information to Canberra, according to the SMH. Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK became a key figure in the investigation after details of conversation with Trump’s former campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, were revealed, and thought to have sparked the inquiry. More here.

    7. Housing affordability is improving across most of Australia, according to this index. The Australian Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) Affordability Index rose by 0.2% in the March quarter, largely reflecting price declines in Sydney. Despite the improvement, housing affordability still remains very challenging in the larger capital cities.

    Source: HIA

    8. Jeff Bezos will never be satisfied with Amazon’s success despite being the world’s richest man, with a net worth of nearly $130 billion. The CEO said in his annual letter to shareholders that he loves that customers are “divinely discontent” and that because their expectations are never static, companies cannot “rest on [their] laurels in this world”. Read more from the letter here.

    9. Here’s 150 years of technological innovation and growth in productivity:

    Global productivityBarclays
    Screen Shot 2018 04 13 at 11.11.22Barclays

    10. Tip: Don’t post on social media if you’re trying to hide. A cryptocurrency startup called Savedroid vanished from the web this week, leaving a meme which said: “Aannd it’s gone.” The founder later tweeted a beachside photo, leading investors to believe that he had absconded with their money. A journalist then decided to track down the founder using clues from the photo he had tweeted. After he was caught the founder said the supposed scam was a publicity stunt to call attention to a serious issue.

    BONUS ITEM: You really should be paying attention to the safety instructions at the start of your flight. **Cover your NOSE & MOUTH**

    Have a great day.

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