Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates In Response To Virus Fears

The Federal Reserve took emergency measures on Tuesday afternoon with a unanimous decision to cut interest rates by 50 basis points. Wall Street benchmarks failed to respond positively to the news despite hopes for an instant boost to the markets.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Tuesday night that he expects the virus will only have a “short-lived” impact on the U.S. economy, but other analysts weren’t so sure of this assessment. Businesses have been hard hit across the globe, with closures and slowdowns in Chinese factories halting production and sales of products worldwide, disrupting the demand for oil, and frustrating businesspeople and consumers. Cancelled flights have caused significant declines in airline prices, and hotels are also suffering significantly from the loss of revenues.

Still, Evans predicted on Tuesday that once the virus is more securely contained and people return to work, the economy will receive an instant boost and return to normal levels. He wasn’t sure what the Fed’s next move would be, but he noted that he is “comfortable with where we are.”

In contrast to Evans’ moderate views, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned on Monday that the spread of the coronavirus is plaguing the global economy worse than the 2008 financial crisis and that central banks must be poised to fight back against further declines.

Global Markets Remain Volatile

All three Wall Street benchmarks closed nearly 3 percent lower on Tuesday, but many Asian indexes were trading modestly higher on Wednesday afternoon. As of 3:03 p.m. HK/SIN, South Korea’s Kospi had jumped 2.24 percent, the biggest gains on the day. Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.08 percent, while China’s Shanghai and Shenzhen Composites were both higher, up 0.43 percent and 0.07 percent respectively.

Gold  (GLD) futures eased downward, sliding 0.03 percent as oil futures pushed higher. U.S. WTI futures were up 1.17 percent to $47.73 per barrel, while Brent crude (BNO) futures gained 1.06 percent to $52.41 per barrel.

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