Good morning, all.
1. The borders are now effectively shut. All non-citizen, non-resident travellers will be banned from entering Australia from tonight. “We believe it is essential to take a further step to ensure we are now no longer allowing anyone, unless they are a citizen or resident or direct family member,” Scott Morrison said in an address on Thursday afternoon. With the blanket travel advisory recommending Australians not go overseas at all for the foreseeable future – and the fact airlines are suspending international flights – Australia is now basically a fortress.
2. The interest rate in Australia has been slashed to a rock bottom 0.25%, and is likely to stick around there for a long time yet. RBA Governor Philip Lowe said it won't rise “until progress is being made towards full employment and it is confident that inflation will be sustainably within the 2–3 per cent target band.” With the full economic devastation of the coronavirus yet to be realised, that could be a while.
3. In further comments after the RBA announcement of its measures to fight the coronavirus, Lowe said Australia should anticipate "significant" job losses. “I’m not able to provide you with an updated set of economic forecasts, the situation is just too fluid, but we are expecting a major hit to economic activity and incomes in Australia that will last for a number of months. We’re also expecting significant job losses,” he told a press conference. He also clarified that he doesn't think the central bank's plan to buy government bonds in the secondary markets quite meets the standard of quantitative easing – even though it's being done towards really the same ends.
4. Grim news from Italy, which now has the highest COVID-19 death toll in the world – outpacing China. Local newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that Italy’s death toll has reached 3,405 – an uptick of 427 deaths from a day prior – while its caseload has surged to 41,035. Even at the height of China’s outbreak, its highest single-day death toll was 150, on February 23. Spain recorded 209 deaths on Thursday, but that’s obviously still far below what Italy is now seeing.
5. Australia's top health advisers have recommended limiting customers in all non-essential indoor venues, and cafes and restaurants are bracing for the impact. A cap of one person per four square metres for indoor gatherings has been recommended, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, and will be debated by the national cabinet on Friday. If that were the happen, it could be devastating for venues of all sizes.
6. Some of them will be obvious to you, but these are the industries taking the hardest hit from the initial phase of coronavirus disruption. Everyone from airlines, to retail and events are feeling a severe pinch.
7. The Dow has nudged a little higher, as coronavirus stimulus measures calm investor nerves. The rebound of 188 follows the 1,300-point slump in Wednesday’s session. The index’s recent intraday low that day marked an erasure of all gains made since President Trump’s inauguration. The ASX is expected to follow with its own hopeful rise as policy intervention expands.
8. Unsurprisingly, Officeworks says it is seeing a spike in demand for home office equipment, as Australia's white collar workers turn towards working remotely on what could be a fairly longterm basis. There's a lot of photos on social media of long lines as people pick up their gear.
9. The US followed other countries including Australia in issuing its starkest travel warning: don't. On Thursday, the US State Department issued a blanket “Level 4” travel advisory – its highest warning – covering all international travel. The unprecedented move comes as countries try to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Lots of 'unprecedented' moves being made, across the globe.
10. One sector seeing particular heat in the stock market crash is buy now, pay later (BNPL) companies. Afterpay's stock has been slaughtered over the past month, as investors grow skeptical over whether millennials will be able to do the 'pay later' part of the bargain amid the coronavirus crisis. CEO Anthony Eisen defended the company's model after $1.4 billion was wiped from its value in a letter to investors, claiming the company was well-positioned to weather the current “unprecedented environment”
Okay. Ten alarming updates. One nice video. That's the deal.