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


By the numbers

Australian deaths: 75
Australian cases: 6,661
Global deaths: 190,872
Global cases: 2,709,483

The ASX All Ordinaries closed up 0.53 per cent on April 24 at 5,300.7 points.

The Dow Jones 30 futures, an indicator for how the ASX will open the following trading day, was down 0.37 per cent at 4.42pm on April 24 to 23,249.5 points.


What governments have been doing

Federal parliament is back! The date is set for May 12-14.

The federal government is looking at a very straitened budget come October, as personal income tax collections were down $1bn by the end of March and company tax was down $4bn following the mass shutdown of the economy in March.

It says it doesn’t want higher taxes and state governments need to do the heavy reformist lifting, such as removing stamp taxes on property.

The tax office has given 456,000 Australians early access to $3.8bn of their superannuation, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Thursday.

And elective surgeries are back on from next week, including IVF, while both WA and the federal governments have thrown miners and offshore oil companies a lifeline with reduced levies and extended work programs.

Borders will remain closed for months but there is a deal on the table that could see Australia become the western island of New Zealand — that is, a plan to open the borders early between the two countries to spur tourism, not an enactment of the 1901 Constitution provisions that give the latter the opportunity to become the seventh state of the former.

And what is happening with the federal government’s contact tracing app?

Chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said it had knocked back a federal police request to include “added capabilities” while Government Services Minister Stuart Robert suggested specific privacy laws might be passed just for the app to convince Australians to download it.


What investors are saying

Investors in Australia and the US have been crazy bullish since the Big Scare in March but had their enthusiasm tempered slightly this week when oil prices in the US turned negative.

This tells a very different story to the one of mo’ money (from governments and central banks), mo growth: if consumer and industrial demand have disappeared for oil, then consumer and industrial demand for everything else has too.

Gregg Taylor, chief investment officer at Bombora Group, believes investors have been too focused on COVID-19 infection rates and not enough on the potential frightening economic and corporate data expected over the coming months.

“I think everyone’s been surprised about how sharp and quick the rebound has been in the listed equity market,” he told Stockhead.

Company executives from around the world are, as they have been since the GFC in 2008, pessimistic, says consultancy McKinsey.


What companies are up to

Company news can be separated into good news and bad news this week.

In the good news corner we have food stocks, which are watching Asia sales strategies be turbo-charged as consumers in the region snap up perceived clean, green, non-possible infection vector foods.

Food delivery and gamers were the biggest winners from the government’s first stimulus round — as Stockhead readers will have known early.

The Chinese re-start, albeit a little stop-start as the northern region around Harbin has been locked down now after another wave of infection, is tightening copper supplies and lifting prices from their rock-bottom lows. A sheaf of small cap producers are set to benefit.

Education technology stocks are booming and expect to continue to do well even with talk of children going back to school, as they’re operating under the belief that kids these days will start demanding more tech-enabled teaching, rather than less.

And then there is the array of random companies that are benefiting from COVID-19, from Nanoveu (ASX:NVU) with its antiviral phone screen, to HeraMed (ASX:HMD) with its at-home pregnancy device.

And then there’s the bad news: any pre-revenue biotech with a clinical trial coming up or due to start is in trouble, as 527 studies in Australia and New Zealand in March and April were stopped due to COVID-19. With clinical trials costing multi-millions of dollars, delays are going to cost companies and shareholders.

The silver lining is that if the disease they’re treating is deadly enough, like cancer, some will continue like Prescient Therapeutics’ (ASX:PTX) and Immutep’s (ASX:IMM).

While some oil companies are going to survive the ructions in the US oil market, some won’t as Stockhead uncovered here.

The real risk, however, is that services companies will be worse hit — and without services companies, there is no oil and gas production at all.