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Aussie shares are back in the red on Thursday, with the ASX 200 index down 132pts or 2.6 per cent to 5,120.2. This follows a 4.4 per cent decline for US equities overnight, as the focus returns to the quick spread of the coronavirus in the US. President Trump warned that the US could face as many as 240,000 deaths from COVID-19 (~4,500 at the moment) and said the country will face a ‘very painful few weeks’. The University of Washington ran projections and believes US cases could peak in around two weeks and expects more than 2,000 deaths per day.

The market is being sold off on Thursday, however the ASX 200 is still up by around 5 per cent this week thanks to strong gains yesterday and Monday. This follows the worst month and quarter since 1987 for local shares.

Gold miners are one of the only group improving at lunch, despite a slight fall in the price of the precious metal overnight.

Brambles (BXB) is up 3 per cent after receiving a broker upgrade this morning. This particular broker believes the pallet maker could be resilient in the event of a global recession and should be supported by some panic buying of goods.

IDP Education (IEL) is up 30 per cent after completing a $225m raising. Proceeds will be used partly to ‘enhance balance sheet strength and financial flexibility’. IEL is a provider of international student placement services. IEL slumped by 45 per cent in March.

Webjet (WEB) has successfully raised $231m from institutional investors at $1.70 per share. Its shares have tumbled by around 70 per cent so far this year (not including today’s trade).

Thorn Group (TGA) will close all its 62 Radio Rentals stores, effective 3 April until further notice due to COVID-19. Its online store will continue to operate. TGA shares slumped by 70 per cent last month.

NextDC (NXT) is in a trading halt after launching a $672m capital raising to help support its ‘growth agenda’ which includes the development of a new data centre in Sydney. NXT shares rose by 13 per cent in March.

Harvey Norman (HVN) is down around 9 per cent as it trades ex-dividend today.

So far today, 955.4m shares have changed hands worth $2.4bn. 316 stocks are up, 625 down and 259 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec