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ECB says it ‘stands ready’ to act amid coronavirus uncertainty

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Via CNBC

The European Central Bank (ECB) has become the latest to hint at monetary policy action in a bid to mitigate the potential economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

“We remain vigilant and will closely monitor all incoming data. Our forward guidance steers the orientation of our monetary policy,” ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said at a speech in London on Monday.

“In any case, the Governing Council stands ready to adjust all its instruments, as appropriate, to ensure that inflation moves towards its aim in a sustained manner.”

The statement comes after a series of comments from central bank bosses around the world indicating that a coordinated global monetary response to the epidemic is a possibility.

Stock markets across major economies are coming off their worst week of losses since the financial crisis, as fears of a global recession were intensified by the rapid spread of the virus outside of China.

Beijing has already cut its benchmark lending rates in a bid to weather the storm, with the People’s Bank of China reducing the one-year loan prime rate from 4.15% to 4.05% and its five-year rate from 4.8% to 4.75%.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell issued a statement on Friday reiterating that while the “fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong,” the coronavirus poses “evolving risks to economic activity.”

“We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy,” Powell added.

The market is currently pricing in a 50 basis point interest rate cut at the Federal Open Market Committee’s March meeting and a total of 100 basis points in cuts by the end of 2020.

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The current 1.5% to 1.75% range has held since the end of 2019 following three consecutive cuts across the year.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Monday said the central bank would “strive to stabilize markets and offer sufficient liquidity via market operations and asset purchases.”

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also vowed on Monday that G7 (Group of Seven) major economies would take “concerted action” to limit the economic fallout from the outbreak, with the G7 finance ministers set to discuss response efforts this week.

Outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney told Sky News on Friday that the U.K. should prepare itself for an economic growth downgrade, warning that supply chains were “getting a little tight.”

This is a breaking news story. Please check back later for updates.


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