10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

John Sciulli/Getty Images for McDonald’s

Good morning.

1. US stocks soared Thursday, lifted by strong earnings reports, particularly in the tech sector. Amazon’s first-quarter earnings crushed expectations. The company’s profit beat Wall Street’s forecast by a whopping $US2 a share. Investors cheered the results and Amazon stock spiked to an all-time high, up more than 7%.

Markets Insider

2. The Australian dollar just keeps on falling, dropping for a sixth consecutive session on Thursday. That’s its equal-longest losing streak since May 2015. The AUD/USD this morning was down 0.13% to 0.7553. The US dollar was supported by weakness in the euro on Thursday, as opposed to prior sessions where US bond yields drove broader currency market movements.

AUD/USD Daily Chart

3. Income tax relief looks set to be the centrepiece of the upcoming Federal Budget. This week, Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison has flagged personal income tax cuts for taxpayers in the top income brackets ahead of the budget. In the 2015-16 financial year, the ATO collected $186 billion in personal income tax. 65% of that figure was collected from just 23% of taxpayers. “We have a progressive tax system in Australia… But we cannot push this to breaking point,” Morrison said.

4. Australian inflation would be close to zero without ciggies, power, petrol and beer. Australian CPI grew by 1.9% in the year to March, however, had it not been for just a few specific categories, inflation would have been close to flat. Check it out for yourself – this chart from Macquarie Bank shows Australia’s year-on-year CPI rate overlaid against the contribution from higher tobacco, electricity and gas, fuel, beer, medical and new housing construction costs.

Source: Macquarie Bank

5. It’s now even harder to get a home loan in Australia. Yep, Australia’s banking regulator, announced yesterday that it will remove the 10% annual cap on investor housing credit growth introduced in late 2014. And while that sounds like APRA has relaxed lending restrictions, it hasn’t. According to an economist at JP Morgan, income-based lending restrictions will likely limit housing credit growth and create headwinds for household spending. More here.

6. $10 million. That seems to be the going rate for penalties being dished out to naughty big corps. First, Ford will pay $10 million after it failed to adequately respond to consumer complaints, but not before it tried to blame the mechanical failures on the customers’ bad driving. Now, Telstra will pay the same amount after its billing charges potentially misled more than 100,000 Australians. The fines are the equal biggest payouts on record under consumer law.

7. Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexual assault. The 80-year-old comedian was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The conviction could put him in prison for up to 10 years on each count. Cosby is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars. The guilty verdict came less than a year after another jury was deadlocked on the charges.

8. South Korea is pulling out all the stops for the upcoming inter-Korean summit this week where President Moon Jae-in will meet with Kim Jong Un for the first time. Not only will the two leaders sit at a table exactly 2,018 millimetres wide and designed to look like two bridges merging into one, the food they will be eating will be loaded with symbolism, and Kim Jong Un will even bring his own toilet. Here are some of the other obscure details of the historic summit which has been planned down to the millimetre.

9. “I missed a lot.” Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard University in 1975 – but that wasn’t his biggest regret. The founder of Microsoft says he wishes he had partied a bit more, and studied a little less. “I never went to a football game or a basketball game or whatever sports Harvard might happen to have,” Gates said. In fact Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, would force him to go to parties. “I was so antisocial I wouldn’t have even known they existed, but Steve Ballmer decided I needed some exposure to, I guess, drinking,” he said.

10. We all love a Macca’s cheeseburger, but have you ever wondered what goes on behind the glass window you pick it up from when driving through? We spoke to McDonald’s employees about some insider facts and secrets that are obvious to employees but maybe not known to the consumer. Like, for example, there’s a trick to getting a fresh egg on your breakfast sandwich. Or if you don’t want salt on your fries, you’re better off just asking for fresh fries.

Have a great day.

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