Markets Overview

  • ASX SPI 200 futures down 0.3% to 7,152.00
  • Dow Average down 0.2% to 34,440.88
  • Aussie little changed at 0.6448 per US$
  • U.S. 10-year yield rose 4.8bps to 4.4070%
  • Australia 3-year bond yield rose 5.3 bps to 3.94%
  • Australia 10-year bond yield rose 4.7 bps to 4.22%
  • Gold spot little changed at $1,930.45
  • Brent futures down 1.3% to $93.09/bbl

Economic Events

  • 10:30: (AU) Australia to Sell A$1 Billion 63-Day Bills
  • 10:30: (AU) Australia to Sell A$1 Billion 140-Day Bills

Equity markets in Asia are likely to face selling pressure as worsening risk sentiment drove US stocks to session lows after the Federal Reserve signaled interest rates will be higher for longer.

Futures for benchmarks in Australia and Japan declined, while a gauge for US-listed Chinese stocks fell for a fourth straight session. Big tech led losses on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq 100 down 1.5% and S&P 500 dropping almost 1%. Treasury two-year yields, which are more sensitive to imminent Fed moves, hit the highest since 2006. Contracts for US equities were flat in early Asian trading.

The Fed held its target range at 5.25% to 5.5%, while updated quarterly projections showed 12 of 19 officials favored another rate hike in 2023. Policymakers also see less easing next year, with the median forecast for the federal funds rate at 5.1% by year-end, up from 4.6% when projections were last updated in June.

Other News

One of Australia’s biggest data breaches ever is keeping lawyers busy. But first…

When hackers exposed the passports, licenses and medical ID cards of 9.8 million current and former clients of Australian mobile-phone operator Optus last year, the company commissioned Deloitte to review what went wrong.

That assessment is now at the center of a tug-of-war between lawyers representing Optus, which is a unit of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., and the advocates who filed a class action suit on behalf of the victims.

The fight to disclose the Deloitte report comes as regulators around the world demand more transparency from companies that have been hacked, especially when the breaches involve consumer data. The US Securities and Exchange Commission adopted a rule in July to require that firms disclose most cyberattacks within four days of an incident.

Lawyers representing the victims argued last week in Australia’s Federal Court that the report should be discoverable to shed more light on the possible causes of the breach in the Optus case, which affected more than a third of Australians and spurred local authorities to open an investigation.

Ben Hardwick, who is a lawyer for the plaintiffs, says Optus claims it’s a privileged document that was commissioned primarily for legal advice.

A spokesperson for Optus declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing litigation.

Last October, while in full damage-control mode after revealing the ransomware attack, Optus said in a statement on its website that Deloitte would review the cyberattack and Optus’ “security systems, controls and processes.”

In the meantime, Optus appears to be less cagey about what happened behind closed doors. The Australian Financial Review reported this month that Optus and Medibank Private Ltd. — the health insurer hit by a massive ransomware attack last October — have been sending board members and senior executives to secret industry roundtables to share some details of the attacks.

A spokesperson for Medibank didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the victims of the breach don’t appear any closer to closure. Jane, who is part of the class action suit and asked not to be identified in full due to privacy concerns, said she was targeted by scammers after her information was exposed in the hack.

“Phone numbers I didn’t recognize were calling me almost instantly after the breach. My Facebook account was hacked within three weeks,” she said in an email. With her newborn hospitalized with health issues at the time, she said, “this was the last thing we needed.”

The Medibank breach also spawned class action lawsuits and investigations. Taken together, they roiled Australian industry and brought heightened focus on how even some of the country’s biggest companies weren’t securing sensitive personal data.

The government has since introduced harsher penalties for privacy breaches and is considering new laws to regulate how companies manage the data they collect. It’s an issue that lawmakers around the globe are contending with.

Hardwick expects the judge to rule on whether the report should be released soon. With all the attention these breaches are getting, the doors at these industry briefings might not stay closed for much longer.