10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

A Syrian medic runs for cover during the air strikes which hit a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province. Two air strikes hit a hospital in northwestern Syria as doctors inside treated victims of a suspected chemical attack. Photo: Omar Haj Kadour AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

1. The RBA governor is watching your household debt levels closely. Phil Lowe gave a speech in Melbourne last night where he gave us the clearest insights yet on how the central bank is thinking about rising house prices, investment lending, and the increasing debt piles on household balance sheets. He lays the blame for the surge in property prices on a failure to build homes and infrastructure, but notes that tax treatment of property investments and the availability of interest-only loans have exacerbated it.

In aggregate, households are coping reasonably well with the higher debt levels. Arrears rates remain low and many households have built up sizeable buffers in mortgage offset accounts. At the same time, though, slow growth in wages is making it harder for some households to pay down their debt. For many people, the high debt levels and low wage growth are a sobering combination.

He adds that “the concern has been that the longer the recent trends continued, the greater the risk to the future health of the Australian economy. Stretched balance sheets make for more volatility when things turn down.” Sobering, indeed. We’ve a full wrap of his comments here.

2. To markets, and the Australian dollar is under pressure after the RBA’s statement yesterday highlighted a weakening in employment conditions, and a risk-off tone generally. The Aussie actually fell briefly below its 200-day moving average overnight. ASX futures are up 27 points and today we get the Australian services PMI at 9.30am. Tonight there’s US ADP payrolls.

3. In Syria, dozens of people, including children, were killed after a hospital was bombed. Worse, they were at the time being treated after a chemical attack. And US President Donald Trump took a stance, saying actions by the al-Assad regime were “reprehensible”. He blamed the chemical attack on the Obama administration’s failure to act on the “red line” decree it issued in 2012 to take action if the Assad regime used chemical weapons. A fair point. And maybe a glimmer for the people of Syria that hopefully won’t become another sidenote in history as something a US president said, but never did.

4. Trump may actually take action, too. He’s ordering airstrikes at 5 times the pace Obama did. And an ISIS statement made the news, which they rarely ever do, but this was one in which its spokesman called Trump an “idiot”, so the conventions got dropped for a minute.

5. JPMorgan’s annual letter is out, and CEO Jamie Dimon got on some kind of roll. Here are the highlights:

6. In the same letter, the CEO of the firm’s corporate investment arm, Daniel Pinto, stressed the importance of technology. Specifically that moment recently when one client made a $US100 million trade — from a mobile phone.

7. The next Usain Bolt could be a 12-year-old girl. Brianna Lyston smashed several records at the Boys and Girls Championship in Kingston, Jamaica on the weekend. She came within two seconds of American Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 200m world record which has stood since 1998. Here’s her semi-final:

8. Apple admitted it has messed up on the Mac Pro. Marketing guru Phi Schiller took a select group of journalists into a room yesterday and actually uttered the word “sorry” before talking about long-awaited genuine Mac Pro and iMac updates coming later this year. And he gave out sales figures which showed Microsoft was crushing Apple in the PC race.

9. Six million Australians are about to get a rude shock. A recent survey found one in three “have no plans” to switch to the NBN. Yes, they think it is optional.

10. Astronomers were sifting through some data when they noticed a weird flash in space. They have no idea what it is. So much so, they think it might be a completely new kind of cataclysmic event. Oh, and about 6000 amateur astronomers may have just found Planet Nine.

BONUS ITEM: Synchronised swimming makes much more sense upside-down:

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