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Yahoo Finance's morning wrap for Thursday

The ASX is set to plummet, and do Australia's richest pay their share of tax? Images: Getty

Good morning.

Pandemic declared: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the lethal coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, with WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying the organisation had no choice due to inadequate national responses. 

“We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said at a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday (local time).

Stocks to tumble: Australian shares are expected to plummet after another day in the red for US markets. US equity markets on Wednesday finished lower, with the Dow Jones losing 5.86 per cent and the S&P500 down 4.89 per cent. 

"There's just a plethora of bad news today, a growing number of people with the disease, there are different points of view in how stimulus should work, and the market is acting accordingly," said Peter Tuz, president of the US firm Chase Investment Counsel.

"You call this thing a pandemic and all hell breaks loose."

Apprentice wage subsidies: The government will provide wage subsidies for apprentices and cash payments for small businesses as part of its multi-billion dollar stimulus package, due to be released today. 

“Some 117,000 apprentices will be supported through wage subsidies for employers of less than 20 employees," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday. That will cost $1.3 billion, with the subsidies to last up to nine months.

Up to $7,000 will be offered each quarter for each apprentice in wage assistance to small businesses.

Small business payments: And businesses with turnover of less than $50 million will be eligible for tax-free payments of up to $25,000 to help the bottom line, in line with tax withheld. Businesses that are not required to withhold tax will also be eligible for at least $2,000. 

One-off cash payments? The government is also rumoured to be planning $500 cash payments for Australians on Newstart and the pension.  

Sky News reported the payments will be targeted at vulnerable households, but Morrison has not yet confirmed this element of the package. 

“[We will] have more to say about that tomorrow... that’s when we’ll announce those measures,” he said on Wednesday.

“We're still finalising some of those measures after what was a very lengthy meeting yesterday.”

Pay up: The Australian Tax Office says a number of high net worth groups are deliberately seeking to avoid paying tax. 

"We know a small number of tax advisors intentionally do the wrong thing by placing their high wealth private groups' clients into risky and even illegal tax avoidance arrangements," Deputy Commissioner Tim Dyce said.

"These tax advisors and others who promote aggressive tax arrangements risk being subject to significant financial penalties and face the prospect of prosecution."

Best super for you? Are you in the best superannuation fund? Peter Switzer has some advice on how to find out. 

Airbnb competition: And are you feeling a bit creative? Airbnb has launched a $1.5 million fund designed to finance unusual home ideas. Here’s some inspiration. 

Have a great day!

With AAP.

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