10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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G’day team. Let’s do it.

1. Both Virgin and Qantas are lobbying the government for significant bailouts, as coronavirus travel bans take a sledgehammer to their earnings. Virgin asked for a $1.4 billion rescue in a deal which could involve the government taking equity in the airline, which led Qantas to say that it would need $4.2 billion if Virgin was going to to be bailed out. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce urged the government not to give money to airlines which had been “badly managed” – meaning Virgin, in his view.

2. But the government is holding firm. According to a report in the AFR, it is “set to reject” the initial $1.4 billion loan request. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann also said there are no plans to take a stake in any airline at this point. “It is not our plan to take a stake in an airline,” Cormann told the ABC. “But let me also say that on the other side of all of this, we are committed to ensuring that through our policy settings and the like that on the other side, that we have two competitive airlines.”

3. Now we’re all across the government’s wage subsidy plan, let’s see what economists think about it. The “incredible” spend will save many jobs, CBA economist Gareth Aird said, but will not save all businesses. “We expect a front-loading of job shedding in the next few months with the unemployment rate set to test 9.5-10% by the third quarter, possibly earlier,” RBC economist Su-Lin Ong said. “Today’s package may temper this rise.”

4. You might finally be able to get your hands on some toilet paper soon, if new research from ANZ Bank is to be believed. Based on their data, supermarket demand is staring to level off in a significant way, following the dramatic demand spikes we saw towards the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Spokespeople for both Coles and Woolworths confirmed with us that they’re finding the demand far more manageable at the moment.

5. More alcohol purchasing limits are now in place at major bottle shops like Dan Murphy’s and BWS. They’re reasonably generous, though: customers are limited to 2 cases of beer, cider or pre-mix drinks, 12 bottles of wine, 2 casks of cask wine and 2 bottles of spirits. The limits, designed to keep demand spikes in line, come as CBA research shows spending at bottle shops is up 86% compared to the same week last year. (There’s been a commensurate decline in spending at pubs and bars, of course.)

6. The CEO of car-sharing platform Car Next Door has taken the unusual step of calling on its users to stop “hoarding” cars. Co-founder and CEO Will Davies told Business Insider Australia booking times have increased from the standard few hours to up to a week in some cases. “What we’re seeing over the last few weeks is pretty close to 20% of our bookings are now two days or more, and quite a few of them are week-long bookings,” he said. It comes as many Australians stop using public transport in line with social distancing measures.

7. Video-conferencing apps were downloaded an unprecedented 62 million times last week, reflecting the new normal in how people interact. Apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, and Microsoft Teams all saw downloads skyrocket, with Zoom topping the charts globally. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of permanent changes to the global landscape of work this will generate.

8. Some more confirmation that we really can’t assume anything from the oscillations of the stock market at the moment. Following a nearly week-long rally due to the US government’s stimulus measures, the Dow is slipping again as investors weigh up the likely timeframe of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dow industrial average is on track for its worst first quarter in history, while the S&P 500 is poised to end the first quarter with its worst return since the financial crisis.

9. Another one to watch: Oil’s 66% plunge marks its worst quarter ever amid the double whammy of coronavirus and a global price war. Analysts think that oil prices could fall even further in April as Saudi Arabia and Russia boost production to record levels.

10. It’s depressing, but let’s do it: what’s the current coronavirus pandemic situation? According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard, which collates available information from health authorities sand governments, there are over 850,500 confirmed cases globally, and 41,650 confirmed deaths. Australia has 4,559 confirmed cases, and a 20th death was announced this morning in New South Wales.



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