Alistair Cornish

A Sniippet of weekly news #9 – June 2020

In this issue, we see several signs of an improving economy. Meanwhile the stock market recovered ground after being spooked by rising COVID-19 numbers in the US and around the world.

We also look at the expected increase in tax refunds from working from home, how to project manage your life, plastic rain, and the first prescription video game. 

The one-minute weekly recap

  • Consumer spending is slowly returning to normal according to credit and debit card data released by ANZ and CBA for the second week in June.
  • Jobs continued to recover in May, with payroll data showing a 1 percent increase through May according to the ABS. Employment in Accommodation and Food services was up 5 percent but remains 29.1 percent lower than mid-March levels.
  • After a reality check late last week and early this week, the ASX 200 rebounded by 4 percent on Tuesday on hopes the Federal Reserve will provide more stimulus in the US 
  • In its Board minutes released on Tuesday, the RBA Board said that while “the Australian economy was experiencing the biggest economic contraction since the 1930s …  it was possible that the downturn would be shallower than earlier expected”.
  • The OECD expects Australia to help lead the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. They recommend that the JobKeeper program continue. 
  • Home listings increased by 46 percent in Sydney over the last four weeks. 22 percent in Melbourne, 37 per cent in Brisbane, 24 percent in Adelaide, and 27 percent in Perth according to latest data. Sellers are returning to the market with increasing confidence

A Sniippet for You

One in five home loan deferral customers in strife

AFR, 16 June

  • In March, Banks offered borrowers a six month holiday on their loan payments
  • 480,727 borrowers took up the offer
  • Around 96,000 are now in financial strife so banks are planning to offer extensions of up to six months

Millions on track for big COVID-19 tax refunds

AFR, 11 June

  • ATO expects an increase in tax refunds because of more people working from home
  • Under a new simplified system, people working from home can claim 80¢ for each hour they’ve worked from home
  • The total amount should be claimed in the “other work-related expenses” question in the tax return submission

Workers want a ban on office handshakes and hugs

AFR, 11 June

  • Half of workers want handshakes and hugs banned at the office
  • Nine in 10 think they should be allowed to work from home if they feel unsafe
  • 59 percent of people currently feel uncomfortable using public transport

The 15 coding languages with the most pay, and how to learn them free

AFR, 27 April

  • Perl has the highest average global salary ($US84,025) followed by Scala (US77,159), and GO ($US72,691)
  • Perl is used for prototyping, large scale projects, text manipulation, system administration, web development, network programming, and more
  • HackerRank compiled the data from 116,000 software engineers

Australian company H2X to manufacture hydrogen vehicles in NSW

ABC, 15 June

  • The company has developed prototype hydrogen powered cars and tractors
  • Production will begin in 2021 before being ramped up in 2022
  • It is expected to create around 5,000 direct jobs in the Illawarra region

Plastic Rain Is the New Acid Rain

Wired, 11 June

  • Microplastics are blowing all over the world, landing in supposedly untouched areas
  • Researchers found that 1,000 metric tons of microplastic particles fall into 11 US national parks each year. That’s the same as 120 million plastic water bottles.
  • Research into the effects of microplastics on health, soil and the ocean are only beginning

A Sniippet of Finance advice

The Basics of FIRE (Financial Independence and Retire Early)

Lifehacker, October 2019

  • FIRE is a growing movement in the USA with adherents in Australia too
  • The idea is to live simply, save as much as possible, and invest in low cost passive income investments like index funds
  • Retirement means financial flexibility: you earn enough passive income so that money does not dictate your decisions. For example, you work for love not money.  

A Sniippet of Brain food

Project manage your life

Harvard Business Review

  • Project management frameworks like Agile, Scrum, and Kanban can be applied to our families and personal lives. 
  •  The goal is to improve communication so you can streamline tasks, and reach collective goals more quickly. 
  • Kids love a physical Kanban board
  • Simple PM tools can make a big difference
  • It’s more important to learn good habits than it is to learn to use a tool

A Sniippet of Trivia

The FDA just approved the first prescription video game — it’s for kids with ADHD

The Verge, 15 June

  • EndeavorRX is the first game that can be sold as medicine in the US
  • The game is for 8 to 12 years old with ADHD
  • One-third of kids treated “no longer had a measurable attention deficit on at least one measure of objective attention” after playing the game for 25 minutes a day, five days a week for four weeks

A Sniippet of weekly news #8 – June 2020

In this issue, we learn that happiness gets better after 47 while a 68 woman becomes the first  person to go to space and the deepest part of the ocean.

In the real news, the latest data shows that the economy struggled in March but is improving in May. Meanwhile the share market has a life of its own.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Home builders get $25,000 grants (Domain, 4 June)

  • Government to provide $25,000 grants to build a new home or start a major renovation
  • Restricted to new homes and major renovations valued between $150,000 to $750,000
  • Available for singles who earned up to $125,000 the previous financial year and couples who earned up to $200,000
  • Scheme to last until the end of the year

Kogan.com worth five times more than Myer (AFR, 5 June)

  • As of last Friday, Kogan’s market capitalisation was $1.2 billion, which is more than five times that of Myer’s $220 million.
  • Mr Kogan said. “E-commerce in Australia has advanced several years in the space of a few months.”
  • At the start of the coronavirus restrictions in March, the main items being purchased were laptops, computer equipment, keyboards and webcams but now the increases area across categories

Australian banks save billions by failing to pass on interest rate cuts to credit card customers, CHOICE research finds (ABC News, 9 June)

  • Australian banks have pocketed $6.3 billion from credit card customers by failing to pass on interest rate cuts over the last decade
  • The card with the largest increase since April 2016 is the Coles-branded Coles Low Rate Mastercard

Two in three women will not return to pre-virus spending (AFR, 9 June)

  • Australian women are less likely than men to go back to their normal spending patterns as restrictions are lifted according to research
  • 35 percent of Millennial women said they did not feel financially secure, compared to 26 percent of Millennial men

Qantas will begin reopening lounges in July (AFR, 5 June)

  • Qantas will begin reopening its lounges in July
  • Goal is to reach 40 percent of pre-crisis capacity by the end of July
  • The airline said it would enforce physical distancing, use disinfectant on surfaces and install hand sanitising stations.

Brisbane facing a year of apartment oversupply (AFR, 8 June)

  •  The market is heading for oversupply in the 2021 financial year according to a new report by m3property
  • Covid-19 has reduced population growth and demand
  • QLD population growth to halve in 2021

Now you can buy a Coke with bitcoin (AFR, 9 June)

  • 1,200 Coca-Cola vending machines in Australia and New Zealand have started accepting bitcoin
  • Requires a QR scanner on your mobile and a Sylo smart wallet

What Australia can learn from Sweden’s move to a cashless society (ABC News, 8 June)

  • A report predicts Australia could be cashless within two years
  • Elderly and disadvantaged have struggled with the switch to cashless in Sweden
  • 500,000 Australians do not bank online

A Sniippet of Finance advice

The seven budget and savings apps every Aussie needs (Mozo, February 2020)

  • Moneytree tracks your reward points and your finances
  • Wiselist combines your grocery list with your budget
  • Spendee can track your finances across multiple currencies
  • Of course we also need to mention Sniip! Sniip allows you to pay, track and schedule your bills, and to earn full points with many of your reward programs on most bills.

A Sniippet of Brain food

Happiness is U shaped with age  (NBER Working Paper, David G. Blanchflower, January 2020)

  • Happiness decreases from around 16 years of age reaching a low at around 47 to 48 years of age after which it starts to increase again
  • The U shape is consistent across 132 countries with different median incomes and life expectancies. It is consistent even after controlling for factors such as marital status. 
  • Happiness was measured by asking a person whether they were satisfied with their living standard, finances, and country

A Sniippet of Trivia

Former NASA astronaut Kathy Sullivan becomes first person to travel to space and ocean’s deepest point (ABC New, 9June)

  • 68 year old Dr Sullivan travelled in a submersible to Challenger Deep, a point 11 kilometres below ocean level
  • In 1984, she was the first American woman to do a space walk

A Sniippet of Fun

Lismore in northern New South Wales this week looked more like Winterfell. Photographed by lisa_g_photography.

 

A Sniippet of weekly news #7 – May 2020

Welcome back to our third edition of a Sniippet of news. 

In this issue, we have crammed in some extra goodness with two new sections: personal finance tips and our meme of the week. It is always good to balance the helpful with the absurd.

Our one-minute weekly recap takes time to TikTok, look at some important stats, and who wants to buy Virgin. 

The one-minute weekly recap

A Snippet for You

Check your super balance. Australians scammed out of thousands via the coronavirus early release scheme, ABC News, 1 June

  • Identity thieves have set up myGov accounts and lodged fake early release super applications worth up to $10,000 each
  • The government and ATO say they have tightened up security measures
  • Check your super balances for any unauthorised withdrawals

NSW to open gyms on 13 June, ABC News, 2 June

  • Group classes will be permitted, but class sizes will be capped at 10 people
  • Gyms have already reopened in Western Australia, South Australia, the ACT, and the Northern Territory
  • Kids sports can resume from 1 July

Telstra powers up 5G footprint as new spectrum comes into picture, SMH, 26 May

  • Telstra’s 5G network will reach at least 35 cities by June
  • The auction of the 5G ‘millimetre wave’ (mmWave) spectrum is scheduled for early 2021
  • The mmWave spectrum can be used to deliver high speeds over the mobile network and develop fixed-line services, which can compete directly with the NBN

Melbourne’s Little Italy, Lygon Street, may not recover, ABC News, 1 June

  • The famous restaurant strip has one of the highest vacancy rates in Melbourne
  • “I know of quite a few businesses that were just on the edge, and I think something like this will just throw them over,” Alex Brosca, owner of the restaurant Papa Ginos
  • Melbourne’s Italian community has been getting smaller

Facebook is making it easier to bulk-delete your embarrassing old posts, The Verge, 2 June

  • An upcoming feature will allow you to bulk-delete old posts
  • You will be able to filter by people and time
  •  It will be available on the mobile apps first

Tiger King’s Carole Baskin handed control of Joe Exotic’s zoo, The Guardian, June 2

  • A further twist in the Tiger King story has emerged, with Carole Baskin gaining control of Joe Exotic’s zoo after Exotic failed to pay her $1m in copyright and trademark suit
  • Joe Exotic is currently serving 22 years in prison after being found guilty of animal abuse and plotting to murder Baskin

A Sniippet of Finance advice

How to get rich – make a lot or save a lot? AFR, May 22

  • Spending should always be a function of what you can afford. Practise mindful spending.
  • Recognise that your willpower is finite. Strike for balance rather than rigid frugality.
  • Experiences tend to beat material goods in terms of money well spent

A Sniippet of Brain food

How to Deal With Rejection: A Science-Based Approach

  • Brain scans show that rejection feels similar to physical pain
  • Blame rejection on the circumstances rather than the other person. Work out how to improve those circumstances next time.
  • Do not take it personally, one success or failure will not define you
  • Use rejections as information sources for improvement
  • The best defense against rejection is success. The more success you have, the smaller will be the pain from rejection.

A Sniippet of Trivia

Music Synchronizes the Brains of Performers and Their Audience, Scientific American, 2 June

  • A new paper in the journal NeuroImage finds that the brain activities of an audience and performer synchronize during a performance 
  • The greater the degree of synchrony, the study found, the more the audience enjoys the performance 
  • Musical performances caused increases in oxygenated blood flow to areas of the brain related to understanding patterns, interpersonal intentions and expression

A Sniippet of Fun

A Sniippet of weekly news #6 – May 2020

Welcome back to our second edition of a Sniippet of news. 

Our one-minute weekly recap looks at some big government announcements and the return of sport. In our article summaries, we look at federal government help for the housing industry, bike-paths, and Foxtel’s new streaming service.  

The one-minute weekly recap

Important for Sniipsters

Billion-dollar plan to escape housing’s ‘valley of death’ (The Australian Financial Review, 26 May)

  • The federal government is looking into a multi-billion dollar residential housing scheme to help the industry and stimulate the economy

  • Without help, the residential construction industry may decline by as much as 30 per cent in 2021 

 

Call to fast-track bike lanes to boost jobs and take advantage of lockdown-induced bicycle sales (The Guardian, 26 May)

  • Bike sales have increased while bike-path use has increased by 270 percent in some Australian cities

  • Pop-up bike lanes could help reduce social contact on public transport during the crisis

  • Berlin, Montreal and Paris have fast-tracked new permanent bike lanes; Australia could do the same

 

States must be virus-free before Qld opens borders (The Australian Financial Review, 26 May)

  • Queensland will reopen borders when NSW and Victoria have no local COVID-19 cases for a month

  • The QLD Premier can review the requirement if needed

 

WHO warns of ‘second peak’ in areas where COVID-19 declining (Yahoo News and Reuters, 25 May)

  • WHO emergencies head, Dr Mike Ryan, said that we are still in the first wave

  • But some countries may experience an immediate second wave if they relax restrictions too soon

  • Cases are still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa 

Binge, Foxtel’s new streaming service (ABC News, 25 May)

  • Launched on Monday with 10,000 hours of shows

  • Content deals with Warner Bros (owner of HBO), Sony and the BBC

  • Drawcards include Game of Thrones, the Fast and Furious movies, and the DC universe  

  • From $10 a month with a 14 day free trial

 

Brain food for Sniipsters

This 2,500 year old technique is the secret behind super human memory (Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof)

  • discovered in 477 B.C. but still used today by memory champions

  • Visualise walking through a location you know well and “store” the facts you want to remember at different points along your walk

  • Use striking imagery for the facts you want to remember

 

Sniip Trivia Fun

Microsoft Solitaire turns 30 years old today and still has 35 million monthly players (The Verge, 22 May)

Originally included as part of Windows 3.0 back in 1990 

  • It was designed specifically to teach users how to use a mouse

  • Shipped with over a billion PCs

A Sniippet of the weekly news #5 – May 2020

Here at Sniip, we’re making bill paying easier, faster and more manageable. That way, you can have more time for for getting on with the other things in your life, like reading the news. But even the news can do with some ‘Sniip-ing’ sometimes. Every week we will aim to highlight a handful of important, useful, and fun articles that you may have missed. We will even provide a brief weekly recap of key financial news and try and make sense of it all.

The one-minute weekly recap

But if you think we have it bad, just spare a thought for President Donald Trump, even Fox News has turned on him. He was chastised by Fox anchor Neil Cavuto this week after he admitted to taking the controversial malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19. The FDA has warned against the use of the drug outside of trials and hospitals because of its potentially deadly side effects on the heart.

Important for Sniipsters

Coronavirus rental hardship ‘kicked down the road’ to spring of ‘carnage’, ABC News, 18 May

  • Rent and loan payment holidays will stop around the same time as JobKeeper and JobSeeker finish
  • 10 percent of renters have already asked for rent reductions

‘It’s done its job’: Dan Tehan flags end of free childcare underweight of increasing demand, The Guardian, 18 May

  • Free childcare will stop at the end of June with a return to the previous subsidy system as kids go back to school
  • According to the government, the free childcare policy helped keep 99 percent of childcare centres stay afloat

CHOICE calls on lenders to cap interest rates for Virgin Velocity credit cards ,Choice Magazine, 18 May

  • Point redemptions are currently frozen but will be allowed again after Sep 1 for limited destinations
  • But with Virgin Blue in voluntary administration, the future is uncertain for Virgin Velocity

RBA Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes ,RBA, 18 May

  • Australian economy expected to decrease by an unprecedented 10 percent in the first half of 2020
  • Unemployment will peak at 10 percent in the June quarter
  • Retail sales spiked in March as people stockpiled
  • The Board is happy with the current target cash rate of 0.25 percent.

Australia’s next Tech Unicorn ,The AFR, 16 May

  • NUIX has become a global leader in forensic data discovery and analysis of unstructured data
  • It has over 2000 customers in 75 countries and will earn revenue this year of about $200 million
  • NUIX does not rule out a future IPO, which could have a value of over $1bn

Brain food for Sniipsters

A Commencement Address Too Honest to Deliver in Person
The Atlantic, May 13

  • “The theory of maximum taste says that each person’s mind is defined by its upper limit—the best that it habitually consumes and is capable of consuming”. At university, you are forced to learn hard things but once we start a job, despite best intentions, we end up slipping to “lesser” things.
    Mental junk food is ok so long as you are also feeding on richer food
    Use your spare time during the pandemic to explore books and activities that you would not normally do

Sniip Trivia Fun

Who invented the wheel? And how did they do it?
Wired, 6 May

  • The earliest found axel was from a potter’s wheel in Mesopotamia
  • A clay toy from pre-Columbian America is the earliest found example of a wheeled vehicle
  • “Small versions of inventions—modernly called models or prototypes—nearly always precede larger ones”

A Sniippet of the weekly news #4 – Feb 2020

Coronavirus fears continue

Despite last week’s positive news from Chinese authorities the coronavirus has sent shockwaves through financial markets again this week. Technology behemoth Apple announced overnight that its supply chain has been affected by the outbreak and that sales for the quarter were likely to be affected. In other finance news Australian economists continued their warnings on the Australian economy with many now believing that the government’s budget surplus has likely been wiped out.

Markets catch a light sneeze from the coronavirus

Although arguably predictable given recent news from China many market participants were still caught off guard by a recent Q1 sales warning from market leader Apple. Almost 30 billion US was wiped off Apples market cap in overnight trading with ripple effects flowing through to the stock prices of its suppliers. Gold surged overnight on a flight to safety with the barbarous relic gaining 1% to push past $1,600 USD an ounce.

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Bushfires, coronavirus and the drought tear into government finances

Australian economists have run the numbers and it’s not looking good for treasurer Josh Frydenberg. The much-vaunted budget surplus is almost certainly wiped out as fresh estimates of impact of the coronavirus and the Australian bushfires start to trickle in. Economists are also concerned that the scale of the drought has been underestimated with recent figures indicating its impact on Australian GDP could be as high as .25%. The strong hits to economic growth and the increase in government spending to try and deal with the impact of the disasters means that at this point a budget deficit is almost guaranteed.

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Young Australians lose faith in private health care

Private health insurance is seeing customers fleeing for the exits with young people between the ages of 25 and 29 leading the charge. As inflows dry up private health suppliers have begun attacking themselves with various parts of the industry trying to attribute blame on one another. The infighting will likely intensify as more and more young people exit the system skewing fund demographics towards the older, more expensive, end of the spectrum. Some market watchers are concerned the industry may even be in a death spiral as younger and fitter customers cancel, taking their premiums out of the system while leaving funds still holding the bag for their more elderly higher claiming members.

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A Sniippet of the weekly news #3 – Feb 2020

Australia Floods

In the words of Dorothea Mackellar the last few weeks have been a period Of droughts and flooding rains. While initially being celebrated the downpours are turning dangerous with many areas now experiencing severe flooding. The ongoing effects of bushfires and the coronavirus virus epidemic are starting to impact the Australian economy with the tourism sector in particular showing signs of trouble.  In international news the initial panic regarding coronavirus has become more subdued and US markets have reacted accordingly with new highs on key indexes. While fears have died down the death toll in China has kept rising with 108 fatalities on Monday alone. In addition to the easing fears over the coronavirus pandemic there has been positive news on the economic front with China set to slash tariffs on $75 billion of US imports this Friday.

Tourism sector in trouble as twin shocks hits

Coronavirus and the recent bushfires are already having a strong impact on Australia’s tourism sector. International visitors are cancelling bookings and operators who depend on Australia’s single biggest tourism market, China, are doing it especially hard as the Chinese and Australian governments restrict travel. Even the domestic market is suffering as Australians cancel their bookings as a result of the damage to bushland and fears over being trapped in a bushfire situation. Australia’s tourism sector is dominated by small business and many will be unable to keep staff through the downturn. It will be only a matter of time before any layoffs in one Australia’s largest employment sectors starts to be felt in the broader economy.

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Markets show gains as virus fears ease

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq saw new record highs in overnight trading as coronavirus concerns started to ease. The newfound optimism is being driven by recent statements from Chinese medical authorities that the virus is starting to show signs of containment. The rate of new cases is already declining in some areas and authorities now believe infections may be over by April. US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powel was generally positive on the US economy in his recent remarks to Congress with his only major concern the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.  Given his statements markets were well primed for a surge on the positive news coming out of China.

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Coronavirus death toll reaches 1,000 in mainland China

Over a thousand people have now died in China as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. Monday saw the highest single day death toll so far of the outbreak with 108 deaths recorded. Hubei is still the epicentre of the epidemic with 103 of Monday’s deaths occurring in the province and 67 of those victims passing away in the capital Wuhan. President Xi Jinping spent part of Monday personally visiting patients and medical workers in the capital of Beijing as a show of solidarity with the Chinese people. This marked Xi’s first public appearance since the outbreak of the virus earlier this year. Nearly 20,000 medical personal from across China have been sent to Wuhan to try and contain the epidemic. For now though the rate of infection contains to rise with 2,478 new cases being reported on Tuesday bringing the total number of infected to 42,638.

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China eases tariffs on $75 billion of US goods

In encouraging signs of a thawing of relations China has announced a reduction in tariffs on $75 billion of US goods. The move was expected and was part of the US-China trade agreement reached in early January. China’s economy is facing severe economic shocks as a result of the coronavirus epidemic and has already started a program of fiscal stimulus to help maintain its economic growth. As part of last weeks announcement China’s Ministry of Finance signalled its desire to work with America on removing all tariff increases. Such a move would signal a return to economic normality and an end of the current US-China trade war.

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A Sniippet of the weekly news #2 – Feb 2020

Blue Mountains Bushfires

Welcome to this week’s Sniipet of news. Each week the team at Sniip trawl the web looking for key business and financial stories to sum up and pass along to you. The highs and the lows will always be present affecting global markets and the local business environment but the last few weeks have definitely seen a wave of negative news washing across indexes and crashing into economies across the globe. Fear and uncertainty are causing turmoil in markets across the world as stories continue to pour in on the coronavirus outbreak in China while in more local news the fires in Australia are continuing to burn. The impact of the fires on affected communities will be incalculable and economists are already warning of the follow through effects to the broader Australian economy as a whole.

Recent positive economic indicators exclude impact of bushfires/coronavirus

A slew of positive economic indicators had the treasurer crowing last week but economists have been quick to point out many of the indicators only track up until November 2019. For many of Australia’s key indicators the impacts of the bushfires and the coronavirus is yet to be included in the data. Low interest rates both here and in America are positive tailwinds for the economy with signs of growth especially in the Australian housing market but the governments focus on a budget surplus could prove reckless. There is a clear and growing argument amongst economists for fiscal spending to try and offset the shocks currently buffeting the economy.

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Reserve Bank leaves interest rates on hold

The RBA has left their cash rate at 0.75%. Markets were unsurprised anticipating no cut in spite of the potential impact of both the coronavirus and Australia’s bushfire disasters. Traders currently view a cut at the next meeting in March more likely pricing in a two out of three chance of rates being at or below 0.5% after the boards next announcement. While acknowledging both coronavirus and the impact of the bushfires RBA governor Phillip Lowe pointed towards the ongoing trade war between the U.S.A. and China as continuing to be the biggest economic headwind facing the Australian economy. Some economists have found the boards lack of concern regarding the coronavirus surprising especially given the clear economic impact of the government’s recent decision to close our border to travellers from China.

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Dr Copper surges overnight on news of Chinese stimulus

The economic bellwether has jumped in overnight trading as China’s central bank begins moves to offset the impact of the coronavirus on the Chinese economy. Benchmark copper on the LME rose 1.7% to US$5,618 a tonne from Monday’s five month low of $US5,523. While many are hailing the jump as a sign of a recovery in economic growth some experts are cautioning too much exuberance. Market watchers point to manufacturers trying to lock in prices at or near the recent low as a potential source of demand for contracts. From a longer-term perspective, the ongoing global headwind of the US-China trade war has yet to be resolved. It’s impact, and the ongoing disruption of global supply chains from the coronavirus outbreak, will likely weigh on the global economy long after China’s stimulus activities are complete.

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A Sniippet of the weekly news #1 – Jan 2020

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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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.

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