Australia central bank cuts rates to record low on virus fears

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 03 2020 12:26 PM

Pedestrians walk past the main entrance to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) head office in central Sydney, Australia, October 3, 2016. Oct. 3, 2016. David Gray,Reuters/File Photo

SYDNEY, Australia - Australia's central bank on Tuesday slashed interest rates to a record low on fears the deadly coronavirus outbreak could push the country into recession.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said it had lowered rates by 25 basis points to 0.50 percent in an effort to offset the impact of COVID-19.

The announcement came as other institutions, such as the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank, indicated they were willing to take action to mitigate the economic pressure of the outbreak.

Bank Governor Philip Lowe said global economic growth was expected to be lower in the first half of 2020 because of the novel coronavirus, while it was also having a "significant effect" on the domestic economy.

Australia's education and travel sectors, which are heavily reliant on China -- where it started -- have been particularly hard hit and surrounding uncertainty is also likely to impact spending.

"Given the evolving situation, it is difficult to predict how large and long-lasting the effect will be," Lowe said in a statement.

"Once the coronavirus is contained, the Australian economy is expected to return to an improving trend."


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