TheÂ US dollar is making aÂ late-day rally against multiple currency competitors midweek after theÂ World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that theÂ coronavirus is now aÂ global pandemic. TheÂ greenback had been relatively quiet inÂ theÂ middle ofÂ theÂ trading week, but investors fled toÂ theÂ traditional safe-haven asset following theÂ international bodyâs announcement.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus confirmed atÂ aÂ headquarters news conference inÂ Geneva theÂ number ofÂ confirmed cases outside ofÂ China has skyrocketed. He andÂ his colleagues anticipate theÂ figures will climb even higher inÂ affected countries, blaming leaders forÂ not acting asÂ quickly asÂ they should have.
InÂ theÂ past two weeks theÂ number ofÂ cases outside China has increased thirteenfold andÂ theÂ number ofÂ affected countries has tripled. InÂ theÂ days andÂ weeks ahead, we expect toÂ see theÂ number ofÂ cases, theÂ number ofÂ deaths andÂ theÂ number ofÂ affected countries toÂ climb even higher.
Weâre deeply concerned both byÂ theÂ alarming levels ofÂ spread andÂ severity, andÂ byÂ theÂ alarming levels ofÂ inaction. We have rung theÂ alarm bell loud andÂ clear.
Ghebreyesus noted that 81 nations still do not have any cases, while 57 nations have 10 orÂ fewer cases. He clarified that âall countries can still change theÂ course ofÂ this panic,â citing states âstrugglingâ with capacity, resources, andÂ resolve.
China appears toÂ have gotten aÂ grip onÂ theÂ Wuhan coronavirus, but other countries are beginning toÂ see significant increases, including Italy, Iran, theÂ US, andÂ potentially Qatar. InÂ total, there have been more than 4,300 deaths andÂ more than 120,000 confirmed cases.
The US stock market had already plunged more than 900 points before the announcement, mostly due to a paucity of urgent fiscal response by the US government. But the Dow Jones Industrial Averages added to its losses with a little more than an hour until the closing bell as the leading stock index fell roughly 1,400 points. The S&P 500 dropped 4.7% and the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 4.5%.
OnÂ theÂ data front, theÂ February inflation rate edged up 0.1%, lowering theÂ 12-month rate toÂ 2.3%. TheÂ core inflation rate was unchanged atÂ 0.2% last month. Also, theÂ US budget deficit narrowed toÂ $235 billion inÂ February, which might add toÂ greater uncertainty over lawmakers being able toÂ act onÂ anÂ aggressive fiscal stimulus package. TheÂ White House has discussed aÂ 0% payroll tax cut forÂ theÂ rest ofÂ 2020, wage relief, andÂ paid sick leave.
TheÂ US Dollar Index, which is aÂ measurement against aÂ basket ofÂ currencies, picked up 0.1% toÂ 96.50, from anÂ opening ofÂ 95.91. TheÂ index had fallen asÂ much asÂ 0.5%.
TheÂ USD/CAD currency pair rose 0.22% toÂ 1.3758, from anÂ opening ofÂ 1.3727, atÂ 18:08 GMT onÂ Wednesday. TheÂ EUR/USD fell 0.03% toÂ 1.1282, from anÂ opening ofÂ 1.1284.
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