Australia markets closed

What coronavirus did last night

Here's what coronavirus was doing last night. Source: Getty

If you hadn’t heard already, actor Idris Elba has coronavirus.

Also, Wall Street was down 12.9 per cent overnight.

This was despite a hopeful mid-morning bounce, after US President Donald Trump said his country may be headed toward a recession.

The S&P500 immediately fell 8 per cent on open which triggered the ‘circuit breaker’ trading halt mechanism.

And the US markets’ ‘fear index’, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), jumped by about 44 per cent to close above 82, its highest close in history. The VIX measures investor expectations of volatility over a 30-day period. 

Stimulus v panic triggers

Australia’s Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said this morning the government was planning a second stimulus package, following the $17bn proposal it hoped to legislate next week.

But panic is still trumping stimulus attempts, including repeated massive monetary stimulus from the US Federal Reserve, and is likely to continue to do so while the pandemic ramps up.

Panic triggers overnight include a jump in Italian cases and fatalities, to 27,980 cases and 349 new deaths, taking its toll to 2158, and more evidence that the virus and China’s draconian crackdown has badly affected all aspects of the country’s economy.

China National Bureau of Statistics data for January and February shows retail sales dropped by 20.5 per cent. Industrial output fell by 13.5 per cent. Fixed asset investment was down by nearly 25 per cent. All were weaker than analysts expected.

The biggest casualty is likely to be airlines. Last night the Centre for Aviation said most global airlines would probably be bankrupt by May. In Australia, Virgin (ASX:VAH) is the one everyone is watching.

You can’t go to these countries anymore

Overnight a range of countries shut their borders entirely, with Germany, Spain, Malaysia and Egypt joining the spread of lockdowns.

Australia has followed New Zealand in forcing new arrivals to self-isolate, but hasn’t yet moved to a full border closure.

The New York Times has a relatively up to date list of where you can now no longer go in the world.

What governments are doing about COVID-19

The UK, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson advocated allowing people to catch COVID-19 in order to create “herd immunity”, has been rapidly jerked back into line.

Johnson has delivered a series of strict measures designed to enforce social distancing efforts, and even suggested people over 70 and the medically vulnerable may need to self isolate for 12 weeks.

G7 leaders have told Trump they must pool information about the COVID-19 outbreak, after the US was accused of trying to buy exclusive access to a vaccine under development by German firm CureVac.

The US and the German company have denied the report, first made in German press.

In the US, Moderna is starting human trials, according to reports, with 45 people being jabbed with the DNA-based vaccine overnight. In Australia, the University of Queensland says its getting closer to its own vaccine

Read about vaccine development by UQ, CureVac and Moderna here.

The IMG says it has $US1tn on standby to help mostly developing nations deal with the pandemic.

Hackers, China’s new role, and WWE

Bloomberg broke the news overnight that the US Department of Health suffered a cyber attack on its systems on the weekend. It’s not clear who was behind the attack.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has started sending medical supplies from China — to the US. He Tweeted two pictures of pallets of goods being loaded onto a plane in Shanghai, which he said were full of masks and testing kits.

In March he said he would donate 1 million masks and 500,000 testing kits to the US, and he is also sending supplies to Europe.

And finally, coronavirus is even creating bad PR for WWE. The sport is being played without in house audiences, and the wrestlers were filmed during a commercial break stopping wrestling and having a yarn.

WWE fans are unimpressed the fiction of their sport has been exposed so cruelly.

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