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Not-so-big budget surplus: Yahoo Finance Monday morning wrap

Russell Crowe has inspired six-figure donations to the NSW RFS. (Source: Twitter/@russellcrowe)

Good morning.

Here’s everything you need to know in Australia to kick off your week:

ASX: The Australian share market is expected to open slightly higher despite a negative lead from overseas at the end of last week.

The SPI200 futures contract was up 5.0 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 6,861.0 at 0700 AEDT, suggesting a marginal increase for the benchmark S&P/ASX200 on Monday.

Wall Street closed lower on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.40 per cent, the S&P 500 down 0.40 per cent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite down 0.46 per cent.

Wall Street's major indexes have ended a shortened session lower as US-China discord over Hong Kong fuelled investor anxiety about trade talks and retail stocks dipped as in-store Black Friday sales appeared to draw smaller crowds.

AUD: The Aussie dollar is buying 67.72 US cents from 67.74 US cents on Friday.

How big will this surplus be? Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will still be on track for Australia's first budget surplus in a decade when he hands down his mid-year budget review, but it may not be as big as previously expected.

But economist Chris Richardson does not expect the prospect for future surpluses will be as rosy as portrayed in the government's 2019/20 budget handed down in April.

Deloitte Access Economics expects the federal government's budget update on December 16 will point to a surplus of $5.3 billion for the 2019/20 financial year, which would be smaller than the $7.1 billion forecast in April.

A new anti-foreign intelligence taskforce. The federal government will spend almost $90 million establishing a new counter foreign interference task force which aims to catch and then take to court anyone working to undermine Australia's national interests.

The task force will include staff from domestic spy agency ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, financial intelligence unit Austrac, listening agency ASD and imagery intelligence organisation AGO.

The silly season has officially hit – your wallet. So here are some tips to ensure you spend within your means this Christmas.

How much pocket money should you give your children? And for what? Money expert and Yahoo Finance contributor Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon has a few guidelines. Some chores should just be expected, while others should attract pocket money – and then there are ‘bonus stars’. There are two key lessons they need to learn.

ICYMI: Hollywood heavyweights, Aussie and US business leaders (including Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes) have come together to donate $400,000 to the NSW firefighters. And it all happened thanks to Russell Crowe’s twitter auction. Weekend reporter Lucy Dean has the story.

The NSW RFS posted a thank-you, and offered to replace Crowe’s hat.

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