Welcome to our wrap for investors of the key coronavirus news this week


By the numbers

Australian deaths: 103
Australian cases: 7,165
Global deaths: 360,308
Global cases: 5,808,946

Vaccines are driving market spikes but it’s likely to be treatments for the myriad symptoms COVID-19 inflicts that drive revenue.

What governments have been doing

The Reserve Bank says thousands more could be standing in dole queues if the government sticks to September 30 as the hard deadline for its wage subsidy JobKeeper, and now there’s a new risk on the horizon.

Nine of the 10 electorates that suffered the worst hit to employment due to COVID-19 shutdowns are held by the Coalition, according to the Grattan Institute, putting even more pressure on the Prime Minister to be flexible with the $60bn cash savings from the JobKeeper program.

The country’s political leaders have seized on the economic fallout from the COVID-19 shutdowns to call for wide reforms.

The federal government has brought unions into the tent on industrial relations, with recommendations on issues such as enterprise bargaining due by the end of September.

State premiers have cautiously agreed to continue with the National Cabinet, with taxation and federation reform up for discussion in a bid to rid the country of overlapping responsibilities at state and federal levels.

There is still tension in the air as Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk refuses to let anyone into the state, pointing to September as a possible reopening time.

With a plan for travel to and from New Zealand due in June, that means international travel for the rest of Australia may start before residents of Tweed Heads, NSW, can drive five minutes north to Coolangatta beach.


What investors have been saying

Investment commentators have been abuzz this week over Treasurer Josh Frydenberg changing continuous disclosure rules to give directors temporary relief using his COVID-19 powers.

The rule means companies and directors are liable for failing to meet continuous disclosure obligations if they have “knowledge, recklessness or negligence” around updates on price sensitive information.

Shareholder groups were livid, saying hard-won rights have been swept away; directors are praying the change is permanent.

Alex Joiner, chief economist at global fund manager IFM Investors, says the mammoth fiscal and monetary response to COVID-19 is unlikely to lead to rapidly rising inflation because these are supporting the economy, not stimulating it.

Analysts at American corporate raider Bain have lifted their outlook for the COVID-19 impact to “severe multi-quarter economic impacts in multiple markets likely” and are forecasting a two to three quarter recession.

Market volatility might even inspire some Australians to take a passing interest in their superannuation, although one expert has pointed out that some will also go to extreme lengths *not* to have to think about retirement savings.


What companies have been doing

Companies have been cutting dividends left, right, and centre and the banks were even told to dump them this year or face regulatory wrath.

But for fretting retirees, dividends will be back, says equity information service Morningstar.

“The dividend tap will flow again as withheld earnings eventually find their way back to shareholders,” analysts said, by around the end of this year.

Hand sanitiser is still a thing.

Pot stock eSense-Lab (ASX:ESE) signed a letter of intent with private Israeli biotech SeaLaria to develop anti-viral hand sanitisers containing eSense’s terpene strains and SeaLaria’s gelatinised red algae.

COVID-19 put a stop to rental movements in March, says tech company rent.com.au (ASX:RNT), which saw growth in new ‘renter resumes’ stop mid-month.

Business has since picked up with some of the company’s best business being done in the last four weeks as renters look for bargains.

Smartphone screen protector maker Nanoveu (ASX:NVU) received more proof that its antiviral screen cover can kill coronavirus strain OC43, one of seven coronaviruses that infect humans.

Montana lab Bioscience Laboratories found the antiviral technology, once added to a phone screen cover, kills 99.99 per cent of a coronavirus strain that causes the common cold within 30 minutes.