Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Good morning.

1. We're almost certainly going to see a further interest rate cut today. Markets flipped yesterday and are now pricing in a rate cut in Australia on Tuesday – following signals from the US Federal Reserve that it may also cut its rate, as the coronavirus continues to run rampant. Of course, the RBA have repeatedly flagged that we're likely at the point where further cuts will do little to stimulate a flagging economy, but oh well. Guess we're giving it a shot!

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2. The median Sydney house price has shot past $1 million again, as five other cities hit new heights. Property prices soared 1.1% nationally in February, according to research house CoreLogic, pushing them to within just 1.2% of their 2017 high. Prices are now at record highs again in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart and Adelaide. But the likely interest rate cut today – as well as the uncertain economic impact of the coronavirus – are likely to throw a spanner in the works.

3. Australian shares are poised to open higher, as US stocks surged on the possibility of a rate cut. In New York, every benchmark shot up. The Dow is up 1293.96 points or 5.1%. The S&P 500 closed up 4.6%; the Nasdaq 4.5%. It's the best single day surge on Wall Street since 2009. Is it a dead cat bounce? Well, probably. It certainly seems as if no monetary lever is going to change how consumers respond to a pandemic situation, so we'll have to see how this one plays out.

4. Jetstar workers have voted to accept a new pay deal, ending months of industrial action which led to flight disruptions. The Transport Workers Union had called for a minimum of 30 hours work per week, a 4% increase in wages and a guaranteed 12-hour break between shifts. The final deal workers accepted includes a 3% pay rise over four years, and improved rostering conditions.

5. It's now much easier for rental tenants in Victoria to keep a pet, which is worth knowing if you're either a tenant or a landlord. Those who wish to keep a pet will have to fill out a consent form on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. But if the landlord rejects the pet, the onus is on them to apply to VCAT to have it rejected.

6. The Australian government upgraded its travel advice for Italy, suggesting all travellers "exercise a high degree of caution" when visiting. Those considering travel to ten virus-ravaged towns in the country's north to reconsider their trip altogether.

7. On the coronavirus: the death toll has now passed 3,000 globally, with more than 89,000 infected. The World Health Organisation says there's still a window to contain the virus – and, in what could be considered good news, there are signs China may be overcoming the epidemic. As of Monday, there have been 44,518 recoveries in China, compared to 32,741 outstanding infections.

8. Things maybe aren't as crash hot outside of China though, where cases continue to pop up. Yale professor Howard P. Forman, a practicing radiologist and expert in healthcare management, said he fully expects the number of cases in the US to explode over the next few days, as existing infections are discovered. “There is absolutely going to be an explosion in the number of identified cases,” Forman told Yale Insights. “But how fast that number increases is highly dependent on how fast we can test.”

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9. If you want a microcosm of how the coronavirus is affecting the world of business, look no further than the British Airways route between New York and London. The $1 billion route is cutting 24 flights due to a cratering of demand in business flights thanks to the spread of the virus in Europe. The route is most frequently flown by aircraft with premium-dense configurations where first and business class cabins favoured by business travellers take up more sections of the aircraft than economy.

10. Candidates in the US Democratic primary are dropping like flies – and endorsing former VP Joe Biden. Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg ended his campaign yesterday, followed by Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar. It's clearly part of an effort for the moderates in the face to fall in behind a single candidate to take on insurgent progressive Bernie Sanders, who has won several of the early contests. Biden seems like their best bet.

BONUS ITEM

You might have seen this coronavirus infection tracking dashboard, but you may as well keep an eye on it if you want to either feel like you're in a spy movie or fly into a blind panic. Your choice.