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The first round of the French presidential election is finally over. Now, top vote-getter Emmanuel Macron and runner-up Marine Le Pen have two weeks to sharpen their attacks to sway a majority of voters. Business leaders swiftly backed Macron for his centrist policies, while Le Pen’s National Front wasted no time labeling him a “candidate of oligarchs” and banking lobbies. With both candidates coming from outside the political mainstream, voters are preparing for “something new” in the runoff. These eight maps show the battle lines in the next contest. — Andy Reinhardt
U.K. companies disclose gender pay gaps—and they’re huge. A new law requires companies to calculate the difference in pay for women and men, and publish the numbers online. At asset manager Schroders, men earn on average 31 percent more than women. At Virgin Money, the gap is 36 percent. The average gap overall is 18 percent. That reflects a variety of factors, including the fact that men hold a larger proportion of senior jobs.
Angela Merkel’s foes are in disarray, and it’s partly thanks to Trump. Just three months ago, the right-wing Alternative for Germany party looked poised to seriously challenge Merkel and her Christian Democrat-led bloc in this year’s elections. Since then, the AfD has descended into infighting, and party co-chairman Frauke Petry gave up her bid to lead the campaign in the elections. Some voters in Germany seem to have been turned off populism by the actions of the Trump administration.
A shudder for homeowners and estate agents. The average asking price for London homes fell 1.5 percent in April from a year earlier, the largest annual drop in almost eight years. Buyers shunned the British capital’s central areas. London’s housing market has underperformed the rest of the country since the start of 2016. Factoring into the situation are high valuations, the Brexit vote and tax increases on investors.
Space may be the next frontier for oil giants. Prospecting satellites can be built for tens of millions of dollars, and an asteroid-harvesting spacecraft could cost $2.6 billion, according to Goldman Sachs analysts. Energy consultant Navitas Resources sees companies starting to launch satellites that search for rare gases and metals in asteroids within five years and space mining beginning within eight years.
Can electric cars make it without subsidies? You might surmise that the pending elimination of a $7,500 Federal tax credit would devastate sales of zero-emission vehicles in the U.S. But what happened after Georgia got rid of an even richer subsidy is instructive: Following an initial plunge, sales started to rise again as better cars came to market that held their own against gas-powered rivals.
Jimmy Choo is for sale. Its owner, JAB Holding, is looking to sell the show designer and luxury brand Bally as it refocuses on a growing food empire that includes the recent purchase of Panera Bread Co. for $7.2 billion. London-based Jimmy Choo, whose fans have ranged from the late Princess Diana to the fictional Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and the City,” could attract interest from a larger luxury player as demand for premium goods rebounds.
Compiled by Andy Reinhardt and Leila Taha