The most pessimistic since 1992

Delivered on By Justin Pyvis

Good morning! It turns out that a few “juvenile” and “moronic” individuals have been having a bit of fun with New South Wales' rapid antigen test (RAT) reporting system, with somebody even going as far as plugging Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s name into the system.

Stupid? Sure. But it’s more a problem with the system’s design, where positive unverifiable at-home RAT tests are required to be uploaded or face a $A1,000 fine, which… can’t be enforced, will probably cause some to avoid taking a RAT test entirely, others to do so in secret and still more to upload them with fake names to ‘screw the man’.

In fact the only people likely to take and upload a positive RAT are those who would have done so anyway, without the mandate. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ


Reading the tea leaves

Daily % change

AUD/USD

71.8

-0.4%

AUD/CNY

4.56

-0.4%

AU Bond

1.99

+4.3%

US Bond

1.87

+5.2%

ASX200

7,409

-0.1%

S&P500

4,585

-1.7%

Brent (bbl)

87.9

+1.6%

Gold (oz)

1,814

-0.3%

Iron ore (t)

127.5

+2.7%

Bitcoin

41,633

-1.5%

Ethereum

3,117

-3.3%

Note: Brent oil, gold bullion and iron ore prices are the second futures contract. Bond yields are 10-year Treasuries. The S&P500 is a snapshot 30 minutes before close.

At the time of writing theย US S&P500ย was down -1.7% as 10-year Treasury yields hit their highest level since the start of the pandemic, triggering a selloff in tech as their future expected cash flows get discounted more sharply (the Nasdaq was down -2.3%).

A notable mover was Goldman Sachs, which fell -6.8% after missing quarterly profit expectations due to “weaker trading revenues and rising expenses”, dragging all the other banks down with it.

Locally theย ASX200 closed -0.11% lower, dragged down by healthcare (-1.2%) in the afternoon following an announcement by the Victorian government that the state had declared a “Code Brown”, which allows less urgent health services to be “deferred on a hospital by hospital basis”. The federal government also activated its private hospitals agreement, which allows for up to 100,000 staff at private facilities to be diverted to state hospital systems “under significant pressure”.

Separately, a notable market announcement came from iron ore giant Rio Tinto (-0.4%), which reported its weakest iron ore shipments since 2015 and warned that its forward guidance “assumes development of the pandemic does not lead to government-imposed restrictions… which could result in a significant number of our production critical workforce and contractor base being unable to work due to illness and/or isolation requirements… This risk is exacerbated globally by tight labour markets and supply chain delays”.

Western Australia, which is where Rio’s iron ore mines are located, is due to reopen its borders in ~18 days. It’s also cyclone season. ๐Ÿ™ƒ


Food for thought

Plenty of folks were freaking out last week as supplies dried up.
Plenty of folks were freaking out last week as supplies dried up. Source

The Omicron variant is taking its toll on the Australian economy, both from a health point of view (yesterday was the deadliest day of the pandemic in Australia to date) but also because of the chaos it has caused to supply chains and people’s day-to-day lives.

That’s certainly what’s showing up in the data, anyway. The latest weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence survey dropped 8.1 points to 97.9 during the second week of January “and is now at its lowest since October 2020 during Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19”.

January is normally a pretty positive month in Australia, too โ€“ the sun’s out, people are on leave and we’ve almost always secured the Ashes already. But not last week, which was officially the most pessimistic January week since 1992, back “when the Australian economy was experiencing sharply rising unemployment”.

The good news is that the Omicron wave is likely to fade sometime soon, taking with it the current supermarket shortages and “strains on testing capability”, with ANZ Head of Australian Economics, David Plank, saying “we don’t think the economy is as weak as these data might suggest”.


Bits and bytes

๐Ÿ›‚ Fully vaccinated travellers to Tasmania no longer need to produce a negative test and do not need to register their travel with the state.

๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ “It’s an absolute gross violation of privacy.” Australian Border Force officials confiscated the phones of two returning travellers after ordering them to “write their phone passcodes on a piece of paper”.

๐Ÿป Nathan Lyon, Travis Head, Alex Carey and England captain Joe Root were surrounded by police officers and hotel employees at about 6am on Monday morning, who ordered them to go to bed after an all-night drinking session.

๐Ÿ“ˆ The Bank of Japan upgraded its view of inflation for the first time in nearly eight years, changing its outlook from “skewed to the downside” to “generally balanced”. It also increased its inflation forecast from the current 0.9% to 1.1% for the fiscal year starting in April.

๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™€๏ธ UK job vacancies hit a record 1,247,000 in the three months to December, or 4.1 in every 100 employee jobs in the economy. However, average weekly earnings grew just 4.2% in November, meaning they actually declined by 0.4% after inflation.

๐Ÿ“บ The UK government “is freezing the levy that pays for the BBC for two years”, a move that will force the public broadcaster to make cuts to its budget.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Flipping the script: A spokesman for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said that Russia only began sending troops to the Ukrainian border because it could no longer “tolerate” NATO’s “gradual invasion” of Ukraine.

๐Ÿ™„ Some followers of QAnon said they believed that former US President Donald Trump had been replaced with a body double at a rally in Arizona on Saturday.

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โœˆ๏ธ Two former Cathay Pacific flight crew were arrested in Hong Kong “for violating pandemic rules… after they were identified as the source of the city’s omicron outbreak”. If convicted they face six months in jail.

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš•๏ธ An Italian nurse was arrested after hidden cameras showed her “loading up a dose of Covid-19 vaccine and then emptying the syringe into a tissue before pretending to inject it into the arms of anti-vaxxers”.

๐Ÿ Oh, Canada. A Tesla driver in Ontario took a selfie while standing on top of her car as it sank into the Rideau River, with earlier video footage showing the “same vehicle being driven at speed on the frozen river”.

๐Ÿค” “China on Monday blamed the lone Omicron case in Beijing to international mail delivered from Canada.”

๐Ÿง Chinese tech giant Alibaba’s cloud computing unit is being investigated by the Biden administration “over concerns it could pose a risk to national security”.

๐ŸŽฎ Microsoft will acquire scandal-ridden gaming giant Activision Blizzard in a $US68.7 billion deal, making the tech giant the world’s “third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony”.

๐Ÿ“” A group of crypto muppets banded together to buy a copy of Dune for $A4.2 million (100x the valuation), believing it gave them copyright (it didn’t), which means they won’t be able to follow through with their plan to “produce an original animated limited series”.

๐Ÿ™๏ธ Indonesia will call its new capital city Nusantara, after the government passed a law that will allow it to relocate from Jakarta “to a jungle area of Kalimantan on Borneo island”.