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The trickle of soft and hard data now available to gauge the global economic impact of the Covid-19 epidemic suggests supply-side disruption effects for now exceed the impact on demand. Supply-side effects are harder to treat with policy stimulus. Market is now expecting quite a lot from central banks. In the case of the European Central Bank, we think raising the quantum of corporate bonds purchases would be a likely avenue.
Market reaction: The further spreading of the coronavirus, especially in Europe, has, in the past few days, triggered a selloff in risk assets and high demand for safe assets (US dollar, Treasuries and gold). As markets reassess the spillover effects of the virus into the economy, volatility is likely to persist.
Gold started the year driven by risks associated with geopolitical events. On 3 January, a U.S. drone attack on an Iranian general in Iraq led to a retaliatory strike by Iran on a U.S.-Iraq military base on 8 January. This enabled gold to briefly reach the $1,600 per ounce level for the first time since 2013. Gold pulled back to its low for the month on 14 January, but then trended higher with news of the Coronavirus outbreak in China.