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


By the numbers

Australian deaths: 98
Australian cases: 6,997
Global deaths: 301,937
Global cases: 4,434,590

Data reported by the Poynter Institute indicates there is an 88 per cent death rate for COVID-19 patients once they’re put on a ventilator. There are 14 COVID-19 patients still on ventilators in Australia.


What governments have been doing

The political wind vane this week swung to the federal government’s pandemic response funding.

Parts of the Liberal backbench are becoming uncomfortable with the extent of the $130bn Jobkeeper wage subsidy and the rise in the unemployment benefit, which has blown out by $14bn already after more Australians than expected have been left jobless by the economic shutdown.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already said both programs will need to be changed in June, the halfway point for both, but has ruled out needing both early.

Free childcare is expected to finish at the end of June, however.

Morrison & Co know they need to tread carefully though; three quarters of Australian businesses believe the year ahead will be bad and are very worried about what a second wave of COVID-19 infections will do to the economy.

This could be the opportunity we’ve been waiting for to reimagine the way Australia’s economy works, however.

Experts are urging a rethink about which industries should be supported to deliver an economic recovery, and increasingly they’re also saying the government needs to start playing a role in supply chains because the international political playing field is more tense and much less secure than it was when global just-in-time systems emerged.


What investors have been saying

Investors this week have been flocking to two things: gold, and Bitcoin.

Bitcoin halved this week, meaning that when the 630,000th block was mined the reward for successfully mining new blocks halved from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC.

Some investors — billionaires, that is — say they’re using Bitcoin as an inflation hedge.

Bearing in mind that inflation in the Western world hasn’t really moved since the global financial crisis, these investors still believe the trillions sunk in the global economy by governments and central banks will lead to an inflationary spike.

Others just think of it as digital gold.

Actual gold has also become very important to portfolios as investors look for stability and security in the wake of the market volatility.

Investment bank UBS says a faster shift to online shopping, changes in eating patterns and a flight to value will be the post-pandemic themes to watch. 

And companies that professionally raise money for ASX supplicants say those which haven’t raised yet need to do so fast before the money well dries up.


What companies are up to

Atomo Diagnostics (ASX:AT1) smashed its first few days on the ASX but its shares have tailed off in the ensuing weeks. This is in spite of a rush of “urgent inbound inquiries” from European, US and Chinese diagnostic companies, keen to evaluate the Atomo devices for their own COVID-19 rapid antibody tests.

Hand sanitiser is on the way out as an investment but Zoono (ASX:ZNO), the king of digital sanitation, says it is building a business on surface sprays for humans and animals instead.

Spending on defence will probably increase rather than fall in the near term as US-China relations deteriorate, which has clear advantages for ASX-listed military hardware stocks.

The Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) founder believes small buy-now-pay-later companies won’t survive the pandemic and, unsurprisingly, bags key competitor Afterpay’s (ASX:ATP) business model.

Shaver Shop (ASX:SSG) has been selling more grooming equipment over the last eight weeks as people have been unable to get to the barber or hairdresser.