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Aussie shares are sliding to near intraday lows, with coronavirus fears continuing to keep equities under pressure and markets volatile. The ASX 200 is slipping by ~260pts or 4.9 per cent to 5,033. Remarkably, the local market has fallen by approximately 30 per cent in just 19 trading sessions and today’s tumble marks the smallest daily move so far this week.

While the US market rose by ~6 per cent overnight thanks partly to the White House working on a ~US$1 trillion economic stimulus plan, global equities remain under pressure. US stocks slumped by 12.9 per cent on Monday; its biggest tumble since 1987.

Around 90 per cent of companies on the Australian sharemarket are losing ground at lunch, with banks, most resource stocks, tech and property falling heavily. Gold producers are standing out.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an international travel ban this morning for an indefinite period. Shares in Qantas (QAN) are slumping by around 13 per cent. Flight Centre (FLT) and Webjet (WEB) are both down by as much as 8 per cent as travel grinds to a halt.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIG) is up 12 per cent after renewing a contract with its biggest customer. SIG will supply products for a further five years to Pharmacy Alliance; a group with a network of over 700 pharmacies. It expects the deal to make the company ~$500 million per annum in revenue.

Fisher & Paykel (FPH) is up 5.6 per cent a day after upwardly revising its full year revenue and profit expectations. FPH has had strong demand for its respiratory humidifiers and other products used to treat patients with coronavirus. Also the weaker NZD has helped the New Zealand based company. SIG expects NPAT between $275m and $280m for the year (previously $260-$270m).

Retail trade rose by 0.4 per cent in February according to preliminary monthly data released by the ABS this morning. Trade was boosted by a rise in food/supermarket sales. Shares in Woolworths (WOW) andMetcash (MTS) are both lifting.

Ramsay Health (RHC) is up ~4 per cent despite withdrawing its FY20 earnings guidance. The company owns more than 200 private hospitals globally, some of which are expected to be used in Europe to help governments deal with capacity issues. The specifics are yet to be finalised.

Virgin Australia (VAH) is up 11 per cent, however is down 33 per cent in March and has more than halved in value so far this calendar year. VAH has suspended all its international flights until June 14. It is also reducing domestic capacity across Virgin and Tigerair by 50 per cent.

Air New Zealand (AIZ) has been suspended from official quotation (from the market). The company said it needs time to assess the impact of the New Zealand government travel restrictions on its business.

2.2bn shares have changed hands so far worth $5.6bn. 408 stocks are up, 706 down and 263 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec