1. Trump wants back in to Australia’s trade deal. Republican Senator Ben Sasse says the US President told two advisers to look into getting the US back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Canada. Trump pulled the US out of the TPP two days after taking office and called it a “rape of our country”. While Australia, and the other 10 TPP countries last month signed a new agreement, Sasse says “The best thing the United States can do to push back against Chinese cheating now is to lead the other 11 Pacific nations that believe in free trade and the rule of law”.
2. US stocks climb as Trump softens his protectionist tone, suggesting the US could reenter the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Dow Jones industrial average is up 1.21%. Australian shares appear set to open higher with ASX futures up 18 points this morning. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is looking rock solid at 0.7754.
3. A strike on Syria is becoming increasingly likely as Trump has reportedly nailed down eight locations to strike in Syria, including two airbases, a research facility, and a chemical weapons facility. While any strike on Syria, Russia’s ally, runs the risk of triggering a war between the world’s biggest nuclear powers, a report from a Russian website says the US has been coordinating with Russia to avoid hitting its troops, and will provide a list of targets before a strike to avoid escalation.
4. “Sheer fiction”. They’re the words China has used to describe reports that it plans to build a military base in Vanuatu. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says, “Such allegation of the Australian side is sheer fiction, and Vanuatu has clarified on this matter. The South Pacific island countries should not be the sphere of influence of any country.” Adding: “It would be better if they can make concrete contributions to those countries’ development rather than stir up troubles.”
5. Bitcoin spikes 14% in less than an hour on Thursday morning, bringing the world’s largest cryptocurrency closer to the $US8,000 level not seen since March. It’s the biggest intra-day gain for bitcoin in almost two months. Despite the steep gains, the price is still less than half of its record high of $US19,843 set in December. Earlier this week, Barclay’s said bitcoin is unlikely to ever top that record again, based on modelling that compares the cryptocurrency to the spread of a virus like influenza. At 7.45am, it was sitting at $US7,860.
6. 13 competitors have now vanished at the Commonwealth Games. Eight Cameroon athletes vanished without a trace this week, along with five others from African countries who have also gone missing. It comes as Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned athletes who breached their visa conditions they’d be tracked down, locked up and deported. Most Games athletes are on visas that remained valid until mid-May. “If they don’t want to be held in detention or locked up at the local watch house, they’d better jump on a plane before the 15th and comply with their visas conditions,” said Dutton. “These people and others that might have a similar objective need to hear this message very clearly – they aren’t going to game the system.” More here.
7. China just made a massive show of force in the South China Sea, parading more than 10,000 naval officers, 48 naval vessels and 76 aircraft through the region. Chinese President Xi Jinping was onboard a destroyer to address the troops and preside over the parade. See the takeoff of 4 J-15s from China’s first and only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning:
8. Channel Nine has lost Australian cricket broadcasting rights to Foxtel after a four-decade deal. This morning, Seven West Media informed the ASX that Cricket Australia has been awarded the TV rights to Foxtel and Seven in a six-year deal believed to be worth nearly $1 billion. Just last month, Nine paid $60 million for the rights to broadcast tennis, in what could be interpreted as a sign that its interest in cricket waned.
9. In-N-Out is suing an Australian retailer, claiming the local business is trying to “mimic” its offerings and is misleading consumers. The American fast food giant has launched Federal Court proceedings against Hashtag Burgers, which operates Down N’ Out stores in the Sydney CBD and Ryde. It also claims Down N’ Out stores engaged in “passing off”, where a business represents their goods are those of a rival. A court date has been scheduled for June next year, according to the SMH.
10. Vapers: this one’s for you. NSW’s parliament has banned vaping in public spaces. From July, e-cigarette smokers will be fined up to $550 for vaping in public spaces or on public transport. The ban brings NSW into line with Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT. As said by Health Minister Brad Hazzard: “Put simply, where you are not allowed to smoke cigarettes, you now cannot vape either.”
Have a great weekend.
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