Economy the great unknown in viral era

Original article by Nick Cater
The Australian – Page: 10 : 7-Apr-20

New Zealand and Australia have adopted vastly different strategies in their efforts to combat COVID-19. Many have urged Scott Morrison to adopt NZ Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern’s comprehensive lockdown, but he has preferred to adopt social distancing rules that aim to minimise restrictions on economic activity. Australians were asked by Roy Morgan recently if they believed things would get worse before they get better; 85 per cent said yes. It is starting to appear they are wrong so far as COVID-19 goes, but perhaps not so the economy. Modelling suggests adopting the NZ strategy would have a much more negative impact on the economy that those measures adopted by Morrison, while it is forecast that unemployment could rise by 1.2 million if the federal government’s current measures remain in place for six months or longer.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, ROY MORGAN LIMITED

Oil Search eyes $1bn raising

Original article by Perry Williams
The Australian – Page: 16 : 7-Apr-20

Shares in Oil Search have been placed in a trading halt until 14 April, pending an announcement regarding a capital raising. The oil and gas producer is expected to raise at least $1bn to strengthen its balance sheet in the wake of a sharp fall in the crude oil price. The slump has weighed on Oil Search’s shares, which have fallen in value from more than $7 at the start of 2020 to just $2.73, reducing its market capitalisation to $3.89bn. The new shares may offered at around $2 apiece.

CORPORATES
OIL SEARCH LIMITED – ASX OSH

Australia has flattened the curve – for now

Original article by Edmund Tadros, Tom McIlroy
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 3 : 6-Apr-20

The global death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 74,395; more than 1,339,000 people worldwide have now been diagnosed with the respiratory illness, including 5,795 in Australia. The nation’s death toll from the virus has risen to 41, including a 12th passenger from the ill-fated ‘Ruby Princess’ cruise ship. However, Australia’s rate of infection has slowed to 1.7 per cent, with just 104 new confirmed cases on 6 April. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has reiterated the need to keep complying with social distancing rules in order to continue to curb the virus’s spread.

CORPORATES

Rio Tinto flies in 700 miners to beat lockdown

Original article by Nick Evans
The Australian – Page: 16 : 7-Apr-20

Rio Tinto has advised that about 700 of the fly-in, fly-out workers at its Pilbara iron ore mines will temporarily relocate to Western Australia following the state’s decision to close its borders. Rio Tinto workers will be required to remain on site for 14 days in compliance with the state’s quarantine rules, as well as coronavirus lockdown rules when they are not working. BHP has also relocated about 300 FIFO workers to WA during the pandemic.

CORPORATES
RIO TINTO LIMITED – ASX RIO, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED – ASX FMG

Reserve Bank likely to slow bond buying

Original article by Jonathan Shapiro
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 30 : 7-Apr-20

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s quantitative easing program commenced on 20 March, and the central bank initially began purchasing $5bn worth of commonwealth government bonds per day. It has bought some $31bn of such bonds to date, including $10bn in the week ended 3 April. The RBA has been gradually been winding back its bond buying, and Damien McColough of Westpac says that even if its current momentum is maintained it would hold about $80bn worth of government bonds by the end of June. This would constitute about 30 per cent of the government bonds on issue. The RBA has also bought some $5bn worth of state government bonds.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC

BHP raises spectre of virus compo

Original article by Peter Ker
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 19 : 7-Apr-20

BHP has conceded that it could face workers’ compensation claims from employees who contract the coronavirus while on the job. Workcover Western Australia has indicated that such claims would be possible, although it notes the difficulty of determining when a person contracted the virus. Its observations have been echoed by Queensland’s WorkCover agency. Hall & Wilcox lawyer Terry Killian says employees would likely have to prove that there was a link between their work duties and contracting the virus.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, WORKCOVER WESTERN AUSTRALIA, HALL AND WILCOX, WORKCOVER QUEENSLAND

Business Confidence hits a record low of 95.1 in March – declines accelerated throughout the month

Original article by Roy Morgan
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 7-Apr-20

In Australia, Business Confidence fell 9.5pts (-9.1%) to a new record low of 95.1 in March 2020, according to the latest Roy Morgan Business Single Source survey; this is more than 4pts below the previous bottom of 99.8 the decade-old index hit in July 2011. Business Confidence is now 11.6pts lower than it was year ago, and 19.8pts below the long-term average of 114.9. Analysing Business Confidence by dividing March into fortnights reveals a tale of two distinct halves. In the first two weeks of the month the index continued its recovery from the summer bushfires and averaged 107.5, an increase of 2.9pts from February. However, this recovery was halted in mid-March, with the index averaging only 71.4 over the last half of the month. It plunged day-by-day through to the end of March as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hit Australia and prompted increasing government restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. The latest Roy Morgan Business Confidence results for March are based on 885 detailed interviews with a cross-section of Australian businesses from each State and Territory.

CORPORATES
ROY MORGAN LIMITED

Media groups slash costs as advertising slump bites

Original article by Lilly Vitorovich
The Australian – Page: 15 : 7-Apr-20

Southern Cross Media Group CEO Grant Blackley says the fundamentals of its business remain sound, despite the impact of the pandemic on the advertising market. Southern Cross will seek to reduce costs by $40m-$45m in 2020, while the proceeds of a $169m equity raising will be used to reduce its $330.5m debt. The group has also advised that advertising revenue fell 10 per cent year-on-year in the nine months to 31 March. Rival radio stations group HT&E has also flagged cost cuts, including temporary salary reductions and reduced working hours for its staff.

CORPORATES
SOUTHERN CROSS MEDIA GROUP LIMITED – ASX SXL, HT&E LIMITED – ASX HT1

Covid casuals: money for jam

Original article by Rosie Lewis, Geoff Chambers, Joe Kelly
The Australian – Page: 1 & 6 : 7-Apr-20

The federal government has reached a compromise with the ACTU regarding the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter negotiated a deal with ACTU ­secretary Sally McManus to address the union movement’s concerns about draft legislation to amend the Fair Work Act. Labor still favours implementing the scheme via the Fair Work Commission, but it intends to vote for the legislation when parliament reconvenes for a one-off sitting on 7 April. Meanwhile, new data suggests that some casual workers may be paid significantly more under the JobKeeper scheme than they earned prior to the pandemic.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF EMPLOYMENT, SKILLS, SMALL AND FAMILY BUSINESS, ACTU, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

New Zealand’s Netflix, Lightbox and Amazon Prime Video experience double digit growth in viewership

Original article by Roy Morgan
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 7-Apr-20

New data from Roy Morgan shows that a total of 2.42 million New Zealanders have access to Netflix in their household, an increase of 291,000 compared with a year ago. It is followed by Sky TV (including Neon) on 1.70 million (+66,000), Lightbox on 875,000 (+113,000), Apple TV on 377,000, Amazon Prime Video on 322,000 (+191,000) and YouTube Premium on 234,000 (-7,000). This new pay television data has been obtained from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, derived from in-depth interviews with over six thousand New Zealanders each year. Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says that while Netflix remains the most popular pay television service, a number of its competitors are also experiencing considerable growth. Levine adds that the coronavirus lockdown should provide a boost to not only new entrants such as Disney Plus but also more established services as housebound Kiwis look for ways to entertain themselves.

CORPORATES
ROY MORGAN LIMITED, SKY NETWORK TELEVISION LIMITED – ASX SKT, NEON, LIGHTBOX, APPLE TV, AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, YOUTUBE PREMIUM, DISNEY+