1. June 12. That is the date US President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The meeting, which will take place in Singapore, is the first time a sitting US president and a North Korean leader have met. Trump, of course, announced the details of the meeting via Twitter.
2. Booyah. The AUD is back above 75 cents thanks to a soft US inflation report for April which helped to diminish concerns that price pressures may prompt the US Federal Reserve to lift interest rates faster and higher than markets currently expect. The Aussie jumped as high as .7540 during the session before finishing with a gain of more than 0.9%, the largest increase since March 21.
3. “We can do better than this” was the message Opposition leader Bill Shorten delivered in his budget response last night. Shorten set out to tackle the government’s key criticism of Labor as the party of higher taxes by promising to better the income tax cuts promised by Treasurer Scott Morrison by 75%. Having already agreed to support the government’s $530 tax rebate, Shorten offered an additional $4,398 in tax relief for up to 10 million workers. The full amount will go to people earning up to $90,000, with the rebate still available but reducing on incomes of up to $120,000. More here.
4. While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about the budget. Even though the numbers stack up and reflect a period of sensible fiscal management, there’s still a yawning black hole in this budget. What, exactly, is the plan? Tax cuts and a flatter tax system is not a blueprint for Australia’s future. Here’s what Business Insider’s Paul Colgan has to say about that:
What’s entirely missing is what’s consistently absent in everything the Turnbull government does: a sense of mission, some kind of vision for where the country is going and the kind of nation it wants to be.
It’s not articulated in the budget papers but reading between the lines, the underlying message is that in the medium-term Australia of the future, 94% of people pay 32.5% tax, some more elderly people are working later in life, and the roads are pretty good.
Oh also, the borders are secure and everyone can see a doctor. Fine, but that’s the case today.
To steal the reflection in the title of Bob Geldof’s autobiography: is that it?
5. Israeli forces carried out airstrikes on Iranian military bases in Syria overnight in what was reportedly a retaliatory attack. Israel’s military said the airstrikes came after their posts near the Syrian border were targeted by 20 Iranian rockets. The strikes represent a massive step up in the fighting between Iran and Israel.
6. Trump’s trade fight with China has taken its first big victim. A Chinese tech company called ZTE has halted operations, announcing it’s shutting down most of its operations after the US Commerce Department banned sales of US-made parts to the company. It is the second-largest telecom-equipment firm in China and pulled in almost $US17 billion in revenue last year.
7. Apple is closing in on a valuation of $US1 trillion. The tech giant’s shares are gaining ground for the ninth straight day, up just about 1%. They hit a record high of $US189.56 earlier on Thursday. Shares would need to hit $US203.48 apiece to reach that trillion dollar valuation, according to Bloomberg. Apple shares last got a big boost when Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway added an additional 75 million shares to its existing stake. Buffett later told CNBC, “I’d love to own 100% of it.”
8. Robinhood is an app millennials are using to trade stocks and cryptocurrencies without any fees — and it’s worth $7.4 billion. Did we mention it only launched a little over four years ago? Why is it successful? In short: It makes stock trading cheap, intuitive and mobile, which is apparently exactly what young investors were looking for. Take a look at it here. And before you get too excited, it’s still on its way to Australia but is taking sign ups for a waitlist.
9. Google has wild new technology that lets Google Assistant call businesses on your behalf to get information or make reservations — and it sounds exactly like a real human. It was easily the wildest announcement at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference earlier this week. But people are already forming some very strong opinions about Google Duplex and its various technological and societal implications. Judge it for yourself. Here’s a video of the first public demonstration of Google Duplex:
10. But it’s not the only cool tech impressing us at the moment. Check out this online supermarket’s new warehouse in the UK where thousands of robots zoom around a grid system to pack 65,000 grocery orders every week.
The robot revolution isn’t coming. It’s here.
Have a great day.
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