G-7 Pledges to Fight Virus Risks, Stops Short of Specific Action

G-7 Pledges to Fight Virus Risks, Stops Short of Specific Action

G-7 Pledges to Fight Virus Risks, Stops Short of Specific Action

(Bloomberg) — Group of Seven finance chiefs said they’re 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. “We reaffirm our commitment to use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against downside risks.”

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.

“G-7 finance ministers are ready to take actions, including fiscal measures where appropriate, to aid in the response to the virus and support the economy during this phase,” the statement said.

U.S. stock futures retraced earlier gains on the news while firmed slightly to around 1.13%. Fed funds futures are pricing about 45 basis points of rate easing by the end of March.

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 its next meeting on March 17-18. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday promised to “act as appropriate” to support the U.S.’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 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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