10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Good morning! We’re nearly there.

1. Australian coal exports to China have been formally blocked after months of turmoil. Australian coal will be blocked indefinitely while China emphasises imports from Mongolia, Indonesia and Russia, and expands local production. The decision was made by China’s National Development and Reform Commission at a meeting with 10 Chinese power plants over the weekend.

2. Given China is a – how should I put this – somewhat important market for Australian coal, the government has concerns. “I urge Chinese authorities to immediately rule out these reports of what, if accurate, would appear to be the use of discriminatory practices against Australian coal,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said. “We reiterate that all terms of our free trade agreement and world trade obligations between Australia and China should be upheld and respected.”

3. New Zealand will look to open up a two-way travel bubble with Australia early next year, “once remaining details are locked down”, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. First, she said the government would need to ensure it was not “taking on an unnecessary risk” and that it would be subject to Australia controlling future coronavirus outbreaks. Health Minister Greg Hunt said establishing a bubble would be “very simple” given that New Zealanders are already permitted to visit Australia without quarantining.

4. New modelling from Betashares shows Australian housing affordability has improved to its highest level since March 2002. While house prices have grown much faster than incomes, falling interest rates have helped offset the cost of buying a home. However, the experience differs dramatically across capital cities – with Sydney proving to be far and away the most unaffordable city in the country.

5. A set of Penfolds Grange wines sold for a record price at auction on Sunday. The set of 64 bottles was sold for $431,000 at the Langton’s Penfolds Rewards of Patience auction. It beat the previous record of $372,800 for a set of Penfolds Grange sold in December 2019. “This auction result is a great news story for Australian fine wine, as it shows that Penfolds goes from strength to strength – it’s like liquid gold,” said Langton’s Head of Auctions Tamara Grischy.

6. A new coronavirus strain may be fuelling new spread in southern England, according to UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “Initial analysis suggests this variant is growing faster than the existing variants,” Hancock said on Monday. But many scientists are urging calm in the face of this news, since new strains aren’t necessarily more dangerous or contagious than the original.

7. Due to the above, London will move into the strictest tier of England’s regional lockdown system on Wednesday. All pubs and restaurants will shut unless they offer takeaway services, but shops, schools and gyms will remain open. “I know this is difficult news, and I know it will mean plans disrupted, and that for businesses affected, it will be a significant blow,” Hancock told Parliament.

8. The US Federal Trade Commission is ordering Amazon, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Discord, ByteDance, Reddit, Snap and Twitter to show the agency how they collect and use people’s personal information online. The order is inquiring into how the firms track data and target online ads to consumers, whether they use algorithms to handle personal information, and how their online practices affect kids and teens. US Lawmakers have increasingly signalled that they intend to crack down on tech companies, and public discourse has centred around holding the companies more accountable.

9. Airbnb and DoorDash shares fell on Monday after analysts downgraded the newly public companies’ stock. Both firms surged last week as outsized demand pushed prices well above their IPO levels. Gordon Haskett downgraded Airbnb to “underperform” from “buy,” and expects shares to fall roughly 20% from current levels. DA Davidson lowered DoorDash to a “neutral” rating from “buy,” adding that the company’s stock price leaves little room for future error.

10. Sweden’s neighbours have offered the country help as intensive care units in Stockholm fill with coronavirus patients amid an alarming second wave of infections. A senior Swedish doctor last week warned that he was unsure if “exhausted” healthcare workers would have the capacity to treat the same number of ICU patients as they did at the peak of Sweden’s first coronavirus wave. A Swedish official said the government had not yet requested help from its neighbours.

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