Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Hello team.

1. Scott Morrison last night announced a slew of further restrictions on daily life in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. As of today, substantially more venues and businesses are closing, and the government is recommending people stay and work from home and only leave for essentials like groceries and medical needs. Here's a helpful graphic from the ABC on what's shut and what's not:

https://twitter.com/kirstinferguson/status/1242425085832486918

2. The ban on auctions is sure to smash the Australian property market. Yesterday, we reported that sky-high clearance rates had already begun to drift back down to earth, and analysts suggest a soaring unemployment rate could send prices tumbling. "A deeper recession with say 10% or more unemployment risks tripping up the underlying vulnerability of the housing market around high prices and high debt levels," said AMP chief economist Shane Oliver. "This could see a 20% fall in prices."

3. Following similar decisions by Qantas, Virgin Australia will cut flying in its domestic network by 90% and temporarily stand down 8,000 workers due to the coronavirus. The airline had already cut flights by 50%. The employees being stood down represent about 80% of the company's workforce.

4. Australian supermarkets are now allowed to coordinate with one another on supply, according to a decision by the ACCC. They can now work with one another when dealing with "manufacturers, suppliers, and transport and logistics providers". Previously, this was restricted to encourage competition. ACCC chairman Rod Sims made clear this does not mean Coles and Woolies can now set prices, though.

5. Australian shares are poised to lift this morning, following a surge on Wall Street as stimulus measures are finalised. ASX futures up 278 points or 5.9% to 4992 near 7am AEDT. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 11.4%, or 2,113 points, which marked its biggest point gain ever, as well as its largest percentage increase since 1933.

6. Now that a significant chunk of the country is working from home, it's putting more of a strain on our internet. Netflix has agreed to lower its bitrate in Australia for the foreseeable future, in an effort to lighten the load a little. You'll still get what you paid for, but you might notice a slight decline in quality if you're particularly eagle-eyed.

7. The entire nation of India – that's 1.3 billion people – is being put on lockdown for 21 days. The country has reported 519 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths. Experts fear that testing rates in India are being kept low to prevent panic and to keep healthcare costs down – which may hide the true scope of the outbreak. "There will be a total ban of coming out of your homes," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown."

8. Now we have confirmation on the Olympics. Yes, the games are being postponed until next year. The Olympics are now scheduled to take place in the summer of 2021 - but will still be known as Tokyo 2020. Some nations, including Australia, had already withdrawn from the games, citing both public and athlete health concerns.

9. Over in the US, Donald Trump seems to have selected his preferred course of coronavirus action: get Americans back to work ASAP and hope everything works out. He did a town hall on Tuesday in which he said social distancing measures needed to be rolled back whenever possible. “More people are going to die if we allow this to continue – people have to go back to work,” Trump said. “We can’t lose the advantage that we have.”

https://twitter.com/ddale8/status/1242537204079046657

10. The UK is transforming a huge London conference venue into a coronavirus hospital capable of treating 4,000 COVID-19 patients. The ExCeL Centre in east London will become the “Nightingale Hospital,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday. Hancock also revealed nearly 12,000 retired health professionals had returned to work to help the NHS.

BONUS ITEM

Here's hoping!

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