Good morning, folks.
1. Donald Trump has been acquitted following a bitter impeachment trial. The Senate voted on Wednesday to acquit President Donald Trump of the two charges against him. The vote to acquit Trump of abuse of power fell largely along party lines: 48 senators – every Democratic and independent senator and Republican Sen. Mitt Romney – voted to convict Trump. 52 senators – all Republicans – voted to acquit him. On the obstruction of Congress charge, Romney sided with Republicans and the final vote was 47 senators in favour of conviction and 53 senators against. Got all that? None of this was particularly a surprise, considering the numerical situation in the Senate, but there you go.
2. The most interesting thing from the Trump acquittal was Republican Mitt Romney's decision to vote with Democrats on the abuse of power charge. Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, is currently incurring the wrath of his colleagues for doing so. And Trump's son. It may be a strategic move, however – Romney's state of Utah was the only Republican-dominated state to not vote for Trump in 2016.
3. Amid all the hub-bub, Trump delivered his State of the Union address yesterday, which was basically an 80-minute victory lap on his achievements – with no mention of impeachment. Perhaps he was just confident. The president touted a "great American comeback," three years after decrying "American carnage" in his inauguration speech. Overshadowing all that to some extent was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to rip up the speech in view of cameras right after he finished.
4. Electric car sales have more than tripled in Australia in the past year, leading industry advocates to beg the government for stronger support. Advocates cited in the Sydney Morning Herald today are even asking for Scott Morrison to follow the lead of Boris Johnson's Conservatives in the UK and ban the sale of petrol, diesel, or hybrid cars within 15 years.
5. Two of Australia's neobanks – Xinja and 86 400 – have taken more than $220 million in deposits in a matter of months. It's modest when put against the hundreds of billions held by the big four, but it's certainly a start – and it shows that some consumers are already keen to jump ship. “More than half of the deposits have come from Australia’s big four banks, a very strong signal that consumers are keen to embrace digital banking, get a great rate on their money and are no longer beholden to the banking oligopoly that was shown in such a bad light during the Hayne Royal Commission,” Xinja CEO and founder Eric Wilson said in a statement.
6. RBA Governor Philip Lowe gave an address to the National Press Club on a range of subjects following the RBA's February meeting decision to keep interest rates on hold. One interesting tidbit: he doesn't think the bushfires or the coronavirus will have a lasting impact on the Australian economy. On the coronavirus, he says the RBA is monitoring the situation closely, but has drawn parallels to the SARS crisis of 2003 – indicating only short-term instability.
7. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg doesn't seem to agree, though. He popped up on Sky News this morning and said the effect of coronavirus on the economy will be "significant". "It will have a significant impact because China is our No 1 trading partner," he said "While the epidemic of SARS back in 2003 had an impact on our economy and provides us with a bit of a guide, we’re more integrated economically with China today than we were back then."
8. Aussie cross-border payments unicorn Airwallex is launching a 'borderless' card for business. The new multi-currency card will launch in Australia, before being rolled out in the UK and Hong Kong. Basically, it will enable businesses to make cross-border card transactions without accruing pesky international transaction and exchange fees.
9. More than 24,000 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus – but only a handful of children. “From everything that we’ve seen, and for reasons that are unclear to us, it does seem that this is primarily impacting adults,” Richard Martinello, an associate professor of infectious disease at the Yale School of Medicine, told Business Insider. It could be that we just don't have the data yet – but it's certainly interesting.
10. Apple may be planning to launch a new product called 'AirTags' that would help you find lost items like keys or wallets. AirTags would integrate with the iPhone's Find My app, allowing you to keep tabs on misplaced products so long as they're marked with one of Apple's tags. The company has yet to confirm the existence of such a product, but one analyst suggests it could debut in the first half of 2020. Cool.
Fun little story for you this morning: a passenger on a New York to London flight found a loaded gun left in the bathroom. Turns out it belongs to former UK Prime Minister David Cameron's bodyguard.