Australia markets closed

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

James Hennessy

Hello all.

1. Scott Morrison has announced a raft of new measures this morning around the coronavirus. The travel advice for the entire world has been updated to level 4 – meaning 'do not travel'. This means Australians are advised to not travel anywhere. Work restrictions on the 20,000 student nurses in Australia has been lifted, so they can help fight the virus. A ban on non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more indoors has been implemented as of today. Further measures regarding gatherings of under 100 are being considered. Domestic air travel is still considered "low risk" and is permitted, but the advice is to not travel to remote communities. Morrison said the government is keeping schools open. More to come on this.

2. Late last night, Health Minister Greg Hunt denied rumours the government is on the precipice of announcing a total lockdown in Australia. It seems like everyone at the moment 'knows someone who works the government' who 'says an extreme lockdown is imminent' – I've personally heard versions of this from about five people. However, as The Guardian reported on Sunday, a lockdown is certainly on the table if it becomes necessary. Just apparently not right now. We'll have to wait and see.

3. Australians currently travelling overseas have been told to come home now by DFAT. "If you’re already overseas and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means," it said in a statement. "You may not be able to return to Australia when you had planned to." The department says this is because travel restrictions are being established around the world, and travel is becoming increasingly complex.

4. Virgin Australia is grounding its entire international fleet until June 14. The company is also slashing its domestic capacity by 50%, according to a statement made to the ASX. This is a breaking story – we'll have more for you on this today.

5. Qantas and Jetstar are cutting international flights by 90% as demand plummets. Domestic flights are being cut by 60%. Despite the reductions, Qantas said it will continue to transport people and goods on “key international and domestic routes.” This includes using some of its domestic passenger planes for freight-only flights to replace lost capacity from regular services. Qantas Group says it is figuring out a way to manage its “surplus of labour”.

6. The coronavirus crisis hasn't smashed the Australian property market yet, but that could be about to change. Clearance rates have begun to soften, as less people turn out to auctions in capital cities. Another rate cut expected to be announced on Thursday could offset pressure on mortgages, and boost a potential recovery, as fears of a recession loom.

7. Australia is about to enter a recession, according to 87% of economists in the latest Finder survey. Economic consultancy firm Capital Economics says the prospect now looks “very likely”, with restrictions on travel and gatherings expected to push GDP growth for the first half of the year into negative territory. On the more positive side, two-thirds of economists also expect the recession to be short-lived, with Australia’s economy to begin recovering by the end of the year.

8. The Dow in the US has rebounded. All three major US indexes climbed more than 5% as investors rushed back into risk assets amid a highly volatile market. The ASX is set to open flat, with futures down 7 points or 0.1% to 5279 at 6.59am AEDT.

9. The Aussie dollar slumped to its lowest level in 17 years last night. It dropped beneath US60¢ for the first time since 2003. "The Australian dollar dipped below $0.60000 overnight against a stronger US dollar following additional FOMC support and the prospect of US fiscal stimulus," said CBA currency strategist Kim Munday. It's slightly back above the 60c mark again this morning, but not by much.

10. People may need to work from home and limit socialising for more than a year until a coronavirus vaccine is available, researchers in the UK say. The report by 30 researchers at the University College in London, analysing the spread of the virus in the US and UK, found that social distancing and quarantines could halve the global death toll. The report has prompted leaders in the US and UK to dramatically change their management strategies to more effectively mitigate the virus.


Funny one in the Daily Tele this morning. Apparently Trump had to be reassured that Tom Hanks had not died in a Gold Coast Hospital, following some confusion over the word 'discharged'.