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China cuts market rates, IMF says global growth fragile

General market rebounds were seen as the weekend neared. 

China cut the loan prime rate on Thursday. The one-year LPR was reduced by 10 basis points, while the five-year LPR saw a five basis points deduction.

An employee stands next to a statue of a bear just outside of a bank in Shanghai, China on Friday, 14 February 2020.

On Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared the coronavirus virus as the “the world’s most pressing uncertainty”, noting the cessation of production in China.

 In South Korea, cases climbed to 65 mid-week an increase of 50 per cent for the nation.

Headquarters of the International Monetary Fund

China came out to say that the virus appeared to be airborne.The number of infected reported on Thursday, February 20, were around 76,000 with the pace of spread appearing to slow in Hubei province, where it originated.

CNBC reports that amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, mainland Chinese stocks rose by the afternoon, with the Shanghai composite up about 0.5 per cent. The Shenzhen composite also gained 1.031 per cent while the Shenzhen component advanced 1.26 per cent. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, slipped 0.81 per cent.

On February 20, the People’s Bank of China announced a reduction in the lending benchmark rate Thursday, coming a few days after the PBoC reduced the rate for medium-term loans.

The People’s Bank of China announced a reduction in the lending benchmark rate Thursday

In Japan, the Nikkei 225  traded 0.32 per cent higher. Notably, Softbank Group climbed 2.95 per cent. The Topix index also advanced 0.21 per cent. South Korea’s Kospi was 0.71 per cent lower.

Stocks in Australia saw gains as the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.29 per cent following a positive unemployment report. In response, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6641, down slightly from $0.6696 earlier.

The number of infected reported on Thursday, February 20, was around 76,000 with the pace of spread appearing to slow in Hubei province.

The airline Quantas saw a five per cent rise in share price after announcing it would adjust capacity in line with conditions caused by the virus until late May. Earlier in the week, the Los Angeles Times quoted a new report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention which said that the fatality rate of the new coronavirus is far higher than that of the seasonal flu. Uncertainty surrounds the release of cruise passengers of several nationalities, some of whom might have been infected.

Qantas will reduce overall capacity to Asia by 16 per cent.

HSBC bank in Hong Kong indicated at the top of the week that it would  cut 35,000 jobs over the next three years, in part because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Apple also cut its quarterly sales expectations and warned that the virus threatened global supply chains, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Factory activity in China is yet to restart with Chinese visiting spend projected to decline significantly and fewer cargo ships are in delivery mode.

The WTO projects weak global trade in coming months.