10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty ImagesJeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Good morning.

BREAKING THIS MORNING: Rob Shand has resigned as Managing Director of Blue Sky Alternative Investments, the ASX-listed funds manager hit by a research note from US-based short seller Glaucus Research. We’ve all the details here.

1. The Australian dollar is getting hammered, undermined by another steep lift in US bond yields on Friday. Combined with a sizeable decline on Thursday, the AUD/USD has fallen over 1.4% since Wednesday’s close, leaving it back near the lows it tested on several occasions earlier in the month. Markets will receive data today that could answer whether the global growth slowdown seen in recent months continued into April.

AUD/USD Hourly Chart

2. Quarterly CPI figures are scheduled for Tuesday at 11:30am AEDT. Inflation data is expected to show underlying inflationary pressures in Australia remain weak. The median forecast among 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg is for underlying inflation to rise by 0.5% in the March quarter. A quarterly gain of 0.5% will leave the annual rate of growth at 1.85% — still below the RBA’s 2-3% target range. Headline inflation is forecast to come in at 2%.

3. “Less political grief” would have occurred if the Turnbull government had set up a royal commission two years ago, according to the Prime Minister. The revelations of wrongdoing in banks at the Royal Commission have had Turnbull’s ministers scrambling to explain their resistance to the idea. Turnbull argues the government was working on regulatory measures and the Royal Commission threatened to delay that process. More here.

4. UK Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to surrender over plans to leave the Customs Union after Brexit. May has repeatedly promised that Britain will leave the EU Customs Union and not join any similar arrangement. A U-turn would be popular with business leaders and go a long way toward resolving May’s difficulties in preventing a hard border with Ireland after Brexit. However, it would also be hugely controversial with senior members of the Cabinet – Downing Street now believes that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson could both resign.

5. Four people are dead and two injured after a gunman opened fire at a restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday morning. Authorities alleged that the suspected gunman fled the Waffle House on foot – and wearing no clothing – before a patron heroically tackled him and wrestled away his weapon. The suspect was previously arrested near the White House in 2017. That time, he had 4 guns which were confiscated but later returned to him. The local police are still looking for the attacker.

6. Australia is encouraging the UK to join the TPP, with Turnbull saying it would help extend British influence in the Asia-Pacific and help act as a counterweight to China. It comes as the British government announced on Thursday it will establish new embassies in Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga.

7. Australia’s so-called “golden ticket” visa is being snubbed by wealthy migrants, according to The Guardian. Applications for the visa, open to all nationalities but targeted at Chinese investors, are at their lowest levels. A Productivity Commission report in 2016 said the program should be scrapped, suggesting it was prone to rorting and money laundering, and brought little benefit to Australia.

8. Jeff Bezos takes customer service seriously. During an executive meeting, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once called the VP of Customer Service out for extended hold times. After VP Bill Price asserted that customers were waiting on the phones for less than a minute, Bezos tested it out for himself during the meeting. Amazon executives sat through a brutally uncomfortable 4.5-minute phone call while they waited for a representative to answer. Meanwhile Bezos grew increasingly angry as the minutes ramped up, and showed just how much he cares about customers.

9. NBA champion Andrew Bogut has signed with the Sydney Kings. The club is expected to announce details of the move this morning. Luring Bogut back to Australia is a huge endorsement for the Kings and the NBL.

10. The world’s “oldest person” has died in Japan aged 117. Nabi Tajima, born in 1900, died from old age at a hospital on her native southwestern island of Kikaijima. Kyodo news agency reports Guinness World Records had been conducting research with a view to certifying Tajima as the oldest person alive after the previous record holder, Violet Brown of Jamaica, died last year at 117. If it’s all above board, it looks like we just lost the last human from the 19th century.

Have a great day.

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