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Amazon cops major penalty by Italian regulators

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Major online retailer, Amazon has been fined $1.2 billion by regulators in Italy

Regulators in Italy say that Amazon has abused its market dominance by the way it promotes its own distribution service, Fulfilment by Amazon.

It’s the second time that regulators have taken on Amazon in a month – and they say that companies using Amazon as a selling platform are forced to use the FBA service in order to access key benefits such as selling products with prime delivery where no extra costs would be passed on to customers.

A visa credit card is held in front of an Amazon logo in this picture illustration taken September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Illustration

Amazon says that it “strongly disagreed” with the decision, and would appeal

Italian regulators ruled that Amazon put third-party sellers at a disadvantage by requiring use of its own service to access key benefits and events.

“Amazon has thus prevented third-party sellers from associating the Prime label with offers not managed with FBA,”

it said.

The regulator insisted that access to such functions is “crucial” for sellers to achieve success on the Amazon Marketplace.

Regulators also said it would impose corrective steps which will be subject to review by a monitoring trustee.

Amazon said in a statement that the fine was “unjustified and disproportionate”.

“We strongly disagree with the decision of the Italian Competition Authority and we will appeal,” said the company.

“Small and medium-sized businesses have multiple channels to sell their products both online and offline: Amazon is just one of those options.

The regulatory action is the second fine against the eCommerce giant in a matter of weeks after both the platform and tech giant Apple were fined $228 million for restricting Beats headphone sales, by limiting them to select retailers.

Amazon and Apple have confirmed that they plan to appeal against the fines.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Bitcoin surges closer to all-time high

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Bitcoin surged to new heights on Monday, inching ever closer to its all-time high as the cryptocurrency market continued its bullish momentum following a weekend pause.

The flagship cryptocurrency recorded a remarkable 7.65% increase, reaching a price of $67,608.30, according to data from Coin Metrics.

Earlier in the day, it peaked at $67,977.77, marking its highest level since November 2021 when it achieved its previous all-time high. Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency, also experienced gains, rising by 3.41% and trading near January 2022 highs at $3,588.83.

Both bitcoin and ether are riding the wave of their best week in almost a year, with bitcoin witnessing a 21% surge and ether climbing by 16%.

However, the weekend saw a temporary halt in their ascent as the market absorbed two days of significant outflows from the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), which were offset by inflows into other newly launched bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Market dynamics

Antoni Trenchev, co-founder of crypto exchange Nexo, noted the influence of these new ETFs on market dynamics, suggesting that major movements are now occurring during regular trading days rather than weekends. He emphasized the potential for explosive price action amidst strong demand from these new spot ETFs.

Although bitcoin currently stands around 3% below its intraday record of $68,982.20, it continues to uplift other crypto tokens, particularly meme coins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu coin, which surged by 14% and 45% respectively.

Analysts interpret this as a sign of renewed interest from retail investors in the crypto market, as meme tokens’ weekly trade volume recently reached its highest level since late 2021.

Meanwhile, the rally in crypto equities varied, with Coinbase and Microstrategy experiencing gains of 11% and 24% respectively, while miners witnessed a downturn.

Companies such as CleanSpark, Cipher Mining, Iris Energy, Marathon Digital, and Riot Platforms faced declines ranging from 5% to 7% as concerns over the upcoming halving event in April weighed on investor sentiment.

Although some analysts foresee potential short-term corrections due to extreme profit margins, long-term investors remain optimistic.

They anticipate sustained upward momentum driven by increasing demand through new U.S. ETFs and tightening supply post-April halving.

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Taxing times: 64% of Aussies think they pay too much tax

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As the cost of living continues to rise, a staggering 64% of Australians are voicing their concern over the amount of tax they pay annually, according to recent research conducted by Finder, Australia’s leading comparison site.

The survey, which polled 1,004 respondents, found that nearly two-thirds of Australians, equating to approximately 13 million individuals, feel burdened by the tax they contribute each financial year.

Of particular note is the sentiment among millennials, with a striking 80% expressing dissatisfaction with their tax contributions. Following closely behind are Gen Xers, with 72% sharing similar sentiments. Comparatively, Gen Z (63%) and baby boomers (39%) exhibit less discontent with their tax obligations.

Sarah Megginson, a personal finance expert at Finder, highlighted the strain that the cost of living imposes on individuals’ financial situations.

“Budgets are stretched thin, with many struggling to make ends meet,” she noted. “While inflation is trending downwards, the financial burden remains heavy for a significant portion of Australians.”

Tax hope

However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

The Australian government has announced plans to implement tax cuts commencing July 1, aimed at providing relief to taxpayers grappling with the escalating cost of living.

According to Finder’s analysis, Australians earning between $45,000 and $135,000 annually stand to benefit from a further tax cut of $804, in addition to previously announced reductions.

This translates to a substantial increase in disposable income, potentially alleviating financial strain for many households.

For instance, an individual earning the median Australian income of $83,200 could expect a tax cut of $1,759 over 12 months, nearly double the previous $955 reduction.

Meanwhile, those earning over $200,000 annually will receive approximately $4,529 under the new stage 3 tax cuts, compared to $9,075 under the previous scheme.

Money back

Megginson emphasized the significance of this financial injection in easing the burden of everyday expenses.

“Those struggling with everyday costs will see more money back in their pocket to help battle expenses,” she remarked.

“If your budget allows, stashing some of this extra cash is a wise move. Every bit helps build a buffer for those unexpected rainy days.”

Megginson advised individuals to explore avenues for potential savings, such as switching service providers to reduce expenses. For those unable to save, she recommended allocating the extra funds towards paying down debt and bills to alleviate financial pressure.

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Anticipation builds for US jobs data and it’s global impact

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What to expect on. a global scale as investors brace for key U.S. employment figures.

Investors and economists are eagerly awaiting the release of the latest US jobs data, anticipating its potential impact on global market trends.

The numbers are expected to provide crucial insights into the health of the world’s largest economy and may influence investment decisions and market sentiments worldwide.

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