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


By the numbers

Australian deaths: 97
Australian cases: 6,913
Global deaths: 269,267
Global cases: 3,845,607

This isn’t over yet.

COVID-19 cases are surging in Russia and Brazil. Case numbers are rising strongly throughout the Middle East, India, in key South American states, and are beginning to climb across Africa.


What governments have been doing

Tensions with China ramped up this week as Prime Minister Scott Morrison pressed ahead with his request for a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morrison has reportedly privately cast doubt on the Wuhan lab theory, for which no evidence has been produced, but the affair is making spies and diplomats very nervous.

At the same time battle lines are being drawn between protectionists and globalists as politicians, think tanks, and newspaper editorials  make the case for either closing the borders, or keeping them open with caveats.

With restrictions costing the economy $4bn a week, the main topics of political corona conversation were the contact tracing app — 5 million downloads but it doesn’t work on iPhones — a federal police investigation into superannuation theft via the easy access scheme, and submarines.

Yes, submarines, because the $80bn contract with French company Navel Group to build 12 brand new submarines signed in February last year has already blown out to $90bn, and is running late; few believe Australia can afford to continue with a massive COVID-19 bill looming.

Let’s hope this doesn’t become another Joint Strike Fighter situation.


What investors have been saying

Investors put $13.3bn into ASX stocks in April, more than at the height of the GFC.

And a small but significant enough percentage of that came from retail investors, much to the corporate cop’s horror.

ASIC produced data this week that shows newbie retail investors flooded onto the ASX between February and April in search of a quick buck.

Like a drunk guy in an eastern European bar, they woke up in May naked in a strange town with no passport: more than two thirds of the days on which retail investors were net buyers, their share prices declined over the next day.

Low-carbon funds performed better and were lower risk during the March market rout, said a study by information service Morningstar.

It’s an idea renewables companies are running with as well, with one analysis by the Clean Energy Council suggesting the sector could provide $50bn in post-COVID-19 recovery investment. All the government needs to do is fix the renewable energy policy vacuum.

Also vying for most-likely-to-help in a recovery is the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), which says resources could be the one, if governments step in to protect miners from a drop in private investment. Kind of like what Queensland’s done.


What companies are up to

Despite the ongoing market downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still substantial merger and acquisition activity in the resources sector.

Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS) is on the home stretch for its acquisition of Spectrum Metals (ASX:SPX), with the company receiving acceptances for more than 90 per cent of SPX’s shares.

And Alt Resources (ASX:ARS) has received an all-cash off-market takeover offer from private Australian company Aurenne Group Holdings.

88 Energy (ASX:88E) and XCD Energy (ASX:XCD) have agreed to merge through a recommended takeover offer of 2.4 88E shares for every XCD share held and 0.7 88E shares for every XCD listed option, or about 1.2c per XCD share.

Biotechs with stretched balance sheets have been dealt a blow after the ATO rejected an application for the Jobkeeper wage subsidy to cover pre-revenue companies as well. The subsidy is only for companies which have seen a revenue drop due to COVID-19.

People are deferring their deaths. Propel Funeral Partners (ASX:PFP) said funeral volumes in the last 12 months were only up 1 per cent and admitted the pandemic could even be bad for its business in the coming months.

Shares in Nanoveu (ASX:NVU) surged after the company said tests to assess the effectiveness of an antiviral smartphone case and screen protector had shown promising results against the coronavirus.