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Tourists wear protective masks in Saint Mark's Square in Venice (Photo: Reuters)
Tourists wear protective masks in Saint Mark's Square in Venice (Photo: Reuters)

G-7 says ‘closely monitoring’ coronavirus and ready to take action

G-7 finance chiefs said they are closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus, its impact on markets and economic conditions and are ready to act to shelter their economies

WASHINGTON : Group of Seven finance chiefs said they are ready to act to shelter their economies from the spreading coronavirus, though they stopped short of spelling out what specific measures they would put into place.

“We, G-7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, are closely monitoring the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its impact on markets and economic conditions.," the G-7’s finance ministers and central bankers said Tuesday in a statement following a rare conference call.

Policy makers are under pressure to back up their recent pledges to shield markets and economies from the China-borne virus amid mounting warnings that its spread is propelling the world economy toward its worst year since the 2009 recession.

“We reaffirm our commitment to use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against downside risks," the G-7 said.

While Australia and Malaysia cut interest rates on Tuesday, investors are looking to the Federal Reserve and major counterparts to do the same, perhaps outside of their normal meeting schedule and in a coordinated fashion.

Money markets predict a high chance of a 50 basis point cut from the Fed at or before it’s next meeting on March 17-18. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday promised to “act as appropriate" to support the US’s longest-ever expansion, a statement which helped cushion stocks after their worst week since 2008. Traders are also betting on a 10 basis point cut from the European Central Bank and a 25 basis points at the Bank of England. They also reckon the Bank of Canada will ease monetary policy on Wednesday.


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