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10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Morning, folks. It's a doozy today!

1. The ASX 200 fell a massive 7.3% yesterday. A dramatic drop in the oil price – caused by a spat between Saudi Arabia and Russia – sparked a sharp fall in share prices on Monday, smashing energy stocks hardest, but financial institutions were also in the firing line, as investors freak out over the risks from the economic fallout of the coronavirus. The fall in the ASX is the second-biggest on record on a percentage basis.

2. It does not look a whole lot prettier today. ASX futures were down 273 points or 4.8% to 5432 near 7.10am AEDT. The Aussie dollar is also down nearly a point this morning to 65.93 US cents. Is it all popping off? Yes, I would say it's popping off.

3. Speaking at the AFR's Business Summit this morning, Scott Morrison predicted the coronavirus could be "potentially greater than the Global Financial Crisis for Australia". He says the downturn in business and consumer activity China and abroad is already being felt, and that the hit to the Australian economy "would be greater if coronavirus were to have a significant impact on the health of our workforce". He spoke in general terms about the upcoming stimulus effort, but did not provide specifics.

4. Of course, it ain't all about Australia. Over in the US, the S&P 500 plunged as much as 8% on Monday – its biggest intraday drop since 2010 – before closing 7.6% lower. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 2,014 points, or 7.8%, its biggest single-day loss since October 2008. Sure, we might be hurtling towards a global recession at the scale of the GFC, but we do have a consolation prize: lots and lots of photos in the news of stockbrokers looking very alarmed. Here's one – on the house.

5. Italy, one of the countries worst-affected by the coronavirus, is now in complete lockdown. The surge in COVID-19 cases prompted Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to take the unprecedented step of putting the entire nation on lockdown. That's 60 million people. Italians will only be allowed to leave their homes for urgent health and professional reasons. We're about to see if Europe can handle sort of intense measures implemented to contain the virus in China.

6. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the threat of a coronavirus pandemic 'has become very real' as global cases surpass 110,000. But, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “It would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is we are not at the mercy of the virus.” You can keep an eye on the global status over at Business Insider's frequently updated live page here, if you're so inclined.

7. Qantas has slashed almost a quarter of its international capacity due to weaker travel demand from the coronavirus outbreak. All but two of its A380 aircraft are grounded as a result, reports the SMH. The latest capacity cut represents a 23 per cent drop in seats compared to this time last year, and will remain in place until mid-September. CEO Alan Joyce is forgoing his salary for the next six months, too.

8. As maybe a sign of things to come, the Center for Disease Control in the US is recommending people over 60 stock up on food and medication and not venture out where possible. Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC went on to say “many people in the United States” will be exposed to the virus and that “there’s a good chance many will become sick.”

9. Australia's privacy watchdog has launched legal action against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, following a two-year investigation. The information commissioner alleges the design of Facebook’s platform “facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy.” The maximum penalties it is seeking tally up to a maximum of $1.7 million per breach, under the Privacy Act. That's for compromising the data of up to 311,127 Aussies. You do the math on that one.

10. A lighter note to top it off, because we all probably need it. Uber is trialling Uber Pets in Sydney and Brisbane, meaning you'll be able to take your furry (or scaly, I guess) pal with you on the ride for a small extra fee. If it's successful, the company says, it'll consider rolling it out nationally.


Should you cancel your overseas holiday? No doubt that very query has seen a lot of Google search traffic over the past little while. We spoke to a few experts on the matter, and the answer is: it depends. Bottom line is, if you're flying by plane to somewhere not subject to a travel advisory, you should go ahead – but you should be prepared to change your plans if the situation evolves.