10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Volatility can be attractive. Picture: HBO


1. We’re three days away from the French election, and Bank of America analysts say markets are “still underpricing risks”. With no majority winner likely, it’s just a run-off to decide the two candidates for a final vote in May. But the risk we’re talking about is one of Le Pen victory, which could also be a proxy vote for a “Frexit”. The polls are tight – Le Pen has 22.5% of the vote, with former investment banker Emmanuel Macron in the lead on 24%. Le Pen could probably expect some form of bump today, sadly due to the fact two police officers were killed in a shooting on the Champs-Elysees.

2. Here’s one trader working up a sweat waiting on a stock market shock. Known as “50 Cent” due to his or her liking for contracts that cost roughly that much, investing in VIX calls – essentially betting on investor nervousness – has cost them $89 million. This year.

3. Markets got a little leg-up in the US overnight with treasury secretary Stephen Mnuchin saying forget about the healthcare mess, tax-cut reform plans were in the works and that tax legislation would be passed this year. But really, all eyes are on Monday morning’s French election. Australian stocks nudged a little higher yesterday, driven by the banks, and June Futures point to a solid opening today. The Aussie dollar has crawled off the mat and iron ore futures ripped higher again.

4. We found out what Malcolm Turnbull’s “Australian values” are. Turns out, they’re exactly the same set of values – to the word – Australian pollies have been trotting out for decades. So if the values are the same, why does the citizenship test need to change? Here’s what the PM had to say about that on ABC’s 7.30 programme last night.

5. You’re most likely only just finding out who Bill O’Reilly is. He’s had a long career as a journalist, political commentator and host of Fox News, but will now be remembered as the guy fired over sexual harrassment allegations who will, according to sources at a rival channel, sign off with a $US25 million golden handshake. Add that to former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’ $US40 million golden handshake – over, you guessed it, sexual harrassment allegations – and justice, it seems, has lost its way a little:

Contracts, huh?

6. US president Donald Trump’s approval rating is starting to climb back up. It’s gone from 35% to 43% in the past three weeks, coinciding with his new focus on distractions bombing terrorists in the Middle East. But that could be short-lived, because Syria has moved its planes closer to Russian missile defences. Gah! What would Kid Rock do?

7. Russia, meanwhile, is thinking about beefing up its aircraft carrier stocks. Right now, it has only one, and it’s not great. But a Russian website recently reported on plans to build “the biggest aircraft carrier in the world”. It’s already off to a great start, with the concept called “Shtorm”.

8. The “Game of Thrones” theory bandwagon has rumbled into life, nearly three months out from the new series premiere. HBO just released a bunch of pics, and just about all of them have some clue about where the main characters are headed. We’ve done the guesswork for you.

9. After TPG emerged as Australia’s next major mobile carrier last week, one independent telco claimed Telstra needn’t be worried, it’s Vodafone that will be killed off. Vodafone today broke its silence, claiming TPG can’t build a decent mobile network for $600 million.

10. Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn would like people to know his $US400 wifi-enabled juicing machine is a revolution. Everyone else sees it as a $100 million funded plastic box that screams “tech bubble”. It squeezes a glass of juice – out of $US4-$US7 bags that pretty much contain, well, juice. Wonderfully, Bloomberg journalists recently discovered they could squeeze just as much juice out of the bags with bare hands that don’t need a wifi signal or a $US400 plastic vice. Today, we’ve got Dunn’s reply on why you wouldn’t ever do that.

BONUS ITEM: You bought a zoo:

Picture: Craigslist

Have a great weekend.

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