Good morning — it’s Friday; you made it through another week, unless you’re Ken Henry or Andrew Thorburn.
1. “Andrew and I are deeply sorry for this,” said now outgoing NAB chair Ken Henry in his statement yesterday announcing he would be leaving the bank along with the CEO, Andrew Thorburn. It was contrition that Commissioner Kenneth Hayne had found absent when the bank leaders appeared before the commission last year, leading to them being singled out for criticism in the final report of the inquiry. Phil Chronican, a NAB director and former head of ANZ’s Australia operations, will run the bank while NAB looks for a new chief executive.
Henry has had no shortage of critics this week; for a countervailing view, this article was doing the rounds among investors last night. It’s by hedge fund manager John Hempton — who has known Henry for a long time — outlining the steps Henry took in response to his research findings on mortgage fraud. “I am not trying to defend National Australia Bank,” Hempton writes. “It was the best of a (very) bad lot. But it was still not very good and Dr Henry started the task of making it directionally better.”
2. NAB’s shares will resume trading in a slightly weaker market after the halt that was called yesterday afternoon. US stocks pulled back a bit after Donald Trump said he wasn’t going to meet Xi Jinping before the March 1 deadline which could see a further escalation in the trade war with China. The Australian dollar, meanwhile, looks to have found some support after getting crushed earlier in the week on the RBA’s change in position on interest rates.
3. Iron ore markets look set to soar when they get going again after the Chinese New Year break. Credit Suisse now thinks the benchmark price could crack $US100 a tonne amid supply questions following Vale’s recent disaster in Brazil.
4. The property market may be well past its peak but one of the results of the boom has been the huge amounts of construction activity, especially of apartments. Some pockets of Australia’s cities will see huge amounts of completions in the near future. Market analysts RiskWise have put together a table of the places where they see vast amounts of supply coming through, highlighting them as “danger zones” that buyers might want to avoid if they don’t want to get caught in a flood of value-crushing supply. This table shows the findings with numbers of apartments and how those levels stack up against the existing stock in a suburb.
5. To Europe:
- Italy has plunged into recession.
- Germany is getting close to one — more data overnight showed its industrial output unexpectedly contracted in December.
- The Bank of England says the “fog of Brexit” will push British growth to its lowest level since the financial crisis.
This is fine.
6. Twitter’s monthly user base is continuing to decline. In its quarterly results it beat on the top and bottom lines, but shares in the company fell 7% as investors saw its user base continuing to shrink — three quarters in a row now.
7. A startup is aiming to disrupt the archaic world of commodity trading using satellites and AI. One of the bizarre realities of energy trading is that it’s hard to tell how much oil and gas is really around at any one point, because so much of it is on ships at sea. Vortexa, a London tech startup founded Fabio Kuhn by the former head of trading technology and analytics at BP, is trying to solve this problem using satellite data and predictive analytics. “It’s a shift in an opaque industry because of a space revolution which allows smaller satellites to be launched at lower cost, which wouldn’t have been possible before 2015,” Fabio Kuhn tells BI.
8. Instagram is going to ban all graphic images of self-harm after it was blamed for the suicide of a British teenager.
9. Today’s productivity hack comes from Betty Liu, the executive vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. She uses a 1-3-5 rule, setting out nine things she plans to accomplish each day: one big thing, three medium things, and five small things. “It frees you up mentally to turn off your phone, sit down and relax, enjoy time with your family,” she said, “because you don’t feel that guilt, that lingering guilt that you should have answered that email or you should have had that one more meeting.” More here.
10. ICYMI: The leaked Fyre Festival pitch deck that Billy McFarland used to secure millions for the most overhyped festival in history. Here’s just a taste of the nonsense:
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