Asian Markets Advance as IMF Announces $50B Aid Package to Fight Coronavirus

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By Alex Ho – Asian markets advanced on Thursday in Asia after the International Monetary Fund announced a $50 billion aid package to help fight the coronavirus.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in an interview with CNBC that the money is available “immediately” and is for low-income and emerging market countries.

“What we’re doing right now is reviewing country by country what are the financial needs, and engaging with these countries to make sure they are aware of this resource and we can immediately respond to them,” Georgieva said. “We’re in an early stage of engagement, but I can assure you that we will act very quickly as requests come.”

“We think it is now the time to put in place precautionary measures should the outbreak become more severe,” Georgieva said.

Earlier in the day, she noted that, “We are faced with a generalized weakening in demand, and that goes through confidence and through spillover channels, including trade and tourism, commodity prices, tightened financial conditions.”

“They call for an additional policy response to support demand and ensure an adequate supply of credit,” she added.

The news sent U.S. stocks higher overnight, while Asian equities also benefitted.

China’s and the gained 1.4% and 1.1% respectively by 11:00 PM ET (03:00 GMT).

China’s National Health Commission said there were 139 additional cases and 31 new deaths as of today, all of the fatalities occurred in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Hong Kong’s also climbed 1.1%.

Japan’s traded 0.6% higher, while South Korea’s also gained 0.6% after the country reports 438 new cases and 3 additional deaths, bringing the nationwide total number of infections to 5,766.

Down under, Australia’s moved 1.0% higher as the country’s January trade data released Thursday came in above expectations. The balance on goods and services came in at a surplus of A$5.21 billion ($3.445 billion) on a seasonally adjusted basis, above expectations of a surplus of A$4.8 billion.

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