May 20, 2019

Australia likely to join the central banks cutting rates in 2019

Interest rates are very likely to come down in Australia after the country re-elected its conservative government in a snap election Saturday.

What's happening: Given last week's soft unemployment and inflation reports, "the Reserve Bank of Australia will have no choice but to cut interest rates next month and follow with additional easing in the fall," says BK Asset Management's Managing Director of FX Strategy Kathy Lien in an email to clients.

  • "The market is only pricing in a 69% chance of a June rate cut but we think the odds are closing to 90-95%."

That will likely mean good news for Australia's stock market if it follows the pattern set by New Zealand's rate cut last month. New Zealand's stock market has been one of the only global benchmarks to remain in the green since Trump reinvigorated the U.S.-China trade war earlier this month.

  • Quizzically, and to the chagrin of policymakers, the kiwi has strengthened against the U.S. dollar since the May 8 rate cut. The Australian dollar followed suit Sunday night.

The big picture: Australia would become the 3rd major central bank, following New Zealand and India, to cut rates this year. This was supposed to be the year of global quantitative tightening, but things are drifting in the opposite direction. Expect more central banks to cut rates as the year continues.

Go deeper: Australia is fighting to go 28 years without a recession

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Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 75,465 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

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SoftBank to cut its stake to get T-Mobile's Sprint deal done

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

T-Mobile and Sprint announced a revised merger agreement that will see SoftBank getting a smaller share of the combined company, while most shareholders will receive the previously agreed upon exchange rate. The companies said they hope to get the deal as early as April 1.

Why it matters: The amended deal reflects the decline in Sprint's business, while leaving most shareholders' stake intact and removing another hurdle to the deal's closure.