One of this week’s highlight is the solar eclipsed witnessed by people in parts of Australia specifically Darwin, Queensland and Western Australia. Although Australia only witnessed a partial eclipse unlike a total eclipse in Indonesia, it was still a sight worth seeing.
Thankfully, together with the eclipse this week are some seemingly good omen for what one economist dub as the “new Australia.”
Australian Dollar Climbs Back Up Against the US Dollar
The Australian dollar finally jumped back to AUD1=US75?.
The currency has not performed this well against the US dollar since July of last year. It even went as low as US68.27? back in January – the lowest in six years.
Experts believe that the rise was due to the improvement of oil and base metal price and demand. Unfortunately, one of Australia’s key commodity link, the iron ore, fell 8.8 per cent.
Despite the poor performance of the iron ore in the market, the Aussie dollar has been boosted by the upturn of commodity prices after suffering from “multi-year lows”, fixed 2 per cent interest rate since May of last year and good economic performance including the country’s GDP increase of 3 per cent last year, a growth higher that the 2.5 per cent forecast.
The Next Ten Stocks for the New Australia
Australia got rich lucky with resources a-plenty for mining.
However, the mining infrastructure and commodity price boom is over giving way to other industries to potentially lead the economy.
Experts dub this age in Australia as the “Great Transition” and readjustments in the economy will revolve in the areas of agribusiness export, investment in non-mining infrastructure, technological disruption, expansion of companies overseas, domestic services growth for ageing population.
There is no guarantee that the country’s recession-free reputation for 25 years will go on for more years in the future. Therefore, it is necessary for all stakeholders to overcome challenges and keep the transition on track.
US investment bank Morgan Stanley said that failure to do so may result to growth flag, budget blow out and Aussie dollar falling too much.
According to the bank, the 10 stocks that are best-placed to do well in each five areas of the “Great Transition” are:
Goodman, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises and Virtus Health as examples of companies doing well on its quest to global expansion.
Lend Lease and Vocus Communications will both benefit for Australia’s need for new economic infrastructure as the ageing population grows.
Australia’s export economy will come from agribusiness, education, tourism and healthcare. “Standout new export economy stories offering material upside for investors” like Mantra and Treasury Wine Estates are identified.
Project management software company Aconex makes the grade as one to benefit and contribute to the Technological disruption area. Experts believe that although Australia is behind other countries on the “innovation curve” the country’s “corporate concentration and receptive consumer make it an attractive market for technological disruptors.”
Lastly, due to Australia’s changing demographics, the demand for aged care will be a win for companies like Aveo and Sonic Healthcare.
Increase in Private Health Insurance Premiums
Starting April, Australians will pay an average increase of 5.59 percent on their private health care premiums.
The amount is the result of negotiations between private providers and the government. The initial increase set last year was 6.2 per cent but it was cut back to as much as 1.5 per cent after health minister Ms. Sussan Ley stepped in and asked the providers to either lower the fees or justify them.
The government asked the providers for transparency to eliminate “junk policies, confusing terminology and hidden payments.”
Labor Health spokeswoman, Ms. Catherine King, on the other hand said that the 5.59 per cent increase is still very high. The increase is “by more than three times the inflation rate.”
The Guardian reports the increase on premium by main health funds are as follows:
Bupa 5.64% (from 6.5%)
Medibank 5.64% (6.59%)
NIB 5.55% (6.55%)
HCF 5.42 (6.5%)
HBF 4.94% (5.96%)
Industry average 5.59% (6.18%)
Banking Apps under Security Threat
A malware virus is lurking behind systems of Android devices to steal bank account details.
All four big banks in Australia, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ bank, are being the target of the malware.
The virus hides on infected devices and captures the customer’s account details the moment the user access their account with the bank’s app.
According to reports, the malware uses a fake login screen to copy the username and password of the customer trying to access his/her bank account online. Further, the malware can intercept two-factor authentication codes sent to the phone via SMS and instead send the code to the hackers. Hackers can then access the account and transfer money from anywhere around the world.
ESET senior research fellow, Nick FitzGerald that the malwares became increasingly sophisticated. Mr. FitzGerald warned that “There’s a high possibility the e-criminals involved will further develop this malware to attack more banking apps in the future.”
As of the writing, the virus is “designed to copy” a total of 20 mobile apps in Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. It also has similar capabilities targeting several Google services, eBay, Paypal, Skype, and WhatsApp.
Legionnaires Disease in Sydney
Four people are suspected to have contracted a bacterial lung infection known as the Legionnaires Disease.
NSW Health thinks that the bacteria infected people in the Town Hall area of the CBD by contaminated water, vapour or dust.
NSW Health officials ask those who might be infected by the communicable disease to see their GPs immediately. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough and shortness of breath. It takes 2-10 days for the symptoms to be felt by those exposed to the virus.
The bacteria causing the disease thrives in water and can multiply in cool air-conditioning systems. Environmental health officers are already going around inspecting cooling towers and taking samples to find the source of infection.
NSW Health Director, Dr. Vicky Sheppeard, said that it is unusual to have four people infected at once. Usual statistics show one person infected in week or even a month.
Legionnaire’s disease is a type of pneumonia, old people, smokers, those with weak immune system are at greater risk of contracting the disease.
Migrant Crisis Update
Another boat with migrants from Bangladesh was turned away by Australia’s border patrol back to Indonesia where the men are not held.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry maintains that such actions of the Australian government were dangerous and it does nothing to solve the migrant problem. Canberra’s “hardline policy” caused tensions between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the fishermen said that they were rescued after by Australia’s border patrol after their boat started to sink. They were instructed to go back to East Nusa Tengarra, Indonesia after being given fuel and other logistics.
In related news, Australia’s immigration minister Peter Dutton, said that the government already spent $2 million for the relocation of 5 migrants in Nauru to Cambodia. However, only 2 permanently relocated in the said country while the other 3 left to go back to their home countries.
The offered a $55 million deal with Cambodia. $45 million is aid money paid in four years for initiatives such as “crop production, landmine clearing and election assistance.”
The other $15 million will serve as payment to the International Organization for Migration.
Mr. Dutton is proud of “the fact that there has been no drownings at sea and no successful boat arrivals.” For the minister, this is a “pretty good outcome.”
Labor’s immigration spokesman, Mr. Richard Marles, believed the Cambodia deal is a “botched deal” commenting on “the inability of this government to secure a meaningful resettlement arrangement with a credible third country is a serious failure.”
Meanwhile, Cambodia indicates that it is not prepared to take in any more refugees.