Coronavirus – Authorities in China extend Lunar holiday to discourage travel
Thousands of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus have led Chinese authorities to extend the traditional Lunar New Year holiday in an attempt to reduce travel and assist in the containment of the epidemic. As of Monday there were 2,744 confirmed cases of the disease and 76 known deaths. Although only limited cases of infection outside of China have been identified the virulence of the disease has world health authorities moving quickly to prevent a pandemic.
Australian bushfire victims targeted by shady insurance middlemen
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority(ACFA) has seen concerning complaints of shady insurance ‘middlemen’ targeting bushfire victims. ACFA has received reports of door knocking, cold calling and bullying tactics to attempt to get people to sign up to contracts that charge high fees for services that have little to impact on the customer receiving their payout earlier. Typically, the fee is a percentage of the customers total awarded claim placing even more of a burden on already traumatised victims.
Unexpected employment boom lifts job rate to 74.1%
Australia has seen record growth in employment with 74.5% of working age Australians now in a job. The boost comes on the back of a strong rebound in house prices and retail spending. Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg has hailed the figures as a sign of a strong and resilient economy and claims it makes a mockery of doomsayers. The strengthening economy is likely to dramatically reduce the chance of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia at their next meeting,
Broad sell off in the US on fears of epidemic
Stocks in the US dropped sharply on last Friday as traders weighed concerns on the impact of the growing coronavirus outbreak in China. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones wrapped up their worst week since August 2019 while the NASDAQ also declined sharply breaking a multiweek rise. Market pundits are claiming the sell offs severity is a combination of virus concerns and a desire by investors to lock in profits after the markets strong run over the last four months.
Auction clearance rates jump
There are signs of a revival in Australia’s moribund property market with auction clearance rates jumping to 71%. Sydney lead the charge with 81.5% of homes selling at auction. The data supports a recent survey from ME Bank that just 17% of people expect property prices to fall over the next 12 months. It may be a little early to call an end to the downturn however as the survey found only high-income earners currently indicating that they’re more likely to purchase a property.