Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

You know the old Lenin saying: "There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen." Feels like we're in the latter right now. Good morning.

1. US stocks plunged on Thursday after President Trump’s Wednesday coronavirus comments failed to calm investors’ nerves, and as scant additional details were provided around a potential stimulus plan. It's the worst single-day drop since Black Monday in 1987. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed in bear-market territory, down more than 20% from recent highs. The Dow Jones industrial average fell further into bear territory after closing below the threshold on Wednesday. The US stock market has now wiped out all the value it gained since Trump's election.

2. Does this bode well for the ASX? No, it does not. ASX futures were down 382 points or 7.2% to 4893 near 7am AEDT, and they went down as much as 8.8% at one point. The Aussie dollar is sliding too, and a drop below 60c can't be ruled out. We're probably in for a rough ride when markets open.

3. Scott Morrison announced the government's $17.6 billion coronavirus stimulus package yesterday. As an obvious way of distinguishing it from Kevin Rudd's stimulus plan in 2008 – which the Coalition has spent more than a decade attacking – it puts substantially more focus on propping up business cashflow than putting money in the hands of consumers. Here are the six key elements, including an increase in the instant asset write-off scheme, wage subsidies for apprentices, and a cash payment for people on benefits.

4. Donald Trump announced the US would ban travel from Europe – excluding the UK – for 30 days. The White House quickly had to scramble to clarify a number of errors in Trump's statement; namely the fact the ban only actually applies to the Schengen Area, meaning other countries like Ireland are also excluded.

5. Not to be outflanked on the travel ban stakes, the Australian government flagged it was also contemplating the possibility of a Europe-wide travel ban. Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was being considered out of "an abundance of caution" – a term we're seeing pop up with quite a bit of frequency these days.

6. A few Australian companies are pledging to pay casual workers in the event they are in isolation because of the coronavirus.Telstra and Woolworths, both of which employ significant numbers of casual staff have provided assurances they will be paid in the event they cannot work.

7. Sad news for those deeply insane people still contemplating getting on a Princess cruise in the near future. The company said on Thursday that it would suspend operations until at least May 11. Two Princess ships were recently quarantined following positive coronavirus cases on board.

8. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson got the coronavirus while shooting the new Baz Luhrmann movie on the Gold Coast. Be proud, Australia. At least we got this great sentence out of it:

9. It's not a sure thing right now, but reports indicate the Australian Grand Prix will likely be postponed. The BBC and Sky Television are reporting that the decision has already been made in a crisis meeting among F1 stakeholders. But there are still conflicting narratives – with some officials saying it is going ahead:

10. Over in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called the coronavirus “the worst public health crisis for a generation.” He advised Brits with even the mildest symptoms to stay at home for at least seven days. “Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time,” he said.


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