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Here is what you need to know on Wednesday, March 18:

Asian stocks and futures on European and US stocks are down after “Turnaround Tuesday” which has seen a recovery. as fears of the coronavirus pandemic rise and markets question fiscal stimulus plans. 

Governments around the world began moving forward with splashing the cash, including “helicopter money” in the US. The administration aims to send every American a cheque worth $1,000 or more and is set to offer additional measures to alleviate the economic pain. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the crisis may send US unemployment to 20%. Mnuchin and Democrats have begun working on the plan, and arguments about details of a program that could balloon to $1.2 trillion may postpone its implementation.

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The dollar is taking a breather from gaining against the euro, pound, and yen, while keeping the pressure on commodity currencies as US bond yields retreat from the highs. Gold is stabilizing above $1,500 after it suffered a generalized sell-off.

The greenback was in demand due to funding distress, which sent investors to the safety of the US dollar. AUD/USD fell below 0.60 – the lowest in 17 years – and USD/CAD is above 1.42. Canadian inflation figures for February are due out on Wednesday. 

Corona-bonds: Germany is warming up to issuing European-wide bond – or debt-sharing – a concept considered taboo around the debt crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the door to such a move in a teleconference with fellow leaders and after governments presented broad spending plans. France pledged €300 billion and Spain talked about a €200 billion plan – 15% of Gross Domestic Product.

Additional countries are under lockdowns in order to halt the spread of the disease. The EU also EUR/USD has stabilized around 1.10 after tumbling to lower levels beforehand. A plunge in the ZEW Economic Sentiment to -49.5 – the lowest in a decade – also added pressure. 

GBP/USD neared 1.20 in a mix of US dollar strength and investors’ doubts about the UK’s “herd immunity” strategy – which it is now abandoning. Prime Minister Boris Johnson changed tack and is now following other countries in social distancing, which is the more conservative way of tackling the outbreak but also has a higher cost. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak talked about a plan worth £350 billion. 

The global pandemic continues spreading with nearly 200,000 confirmed cases and around 8,000 mortalities. Italy counted over 31,000 cases and 2,500. In the US, the death toll surpassed 100 ana the number of cases topped 6,000.

Oil prices remain on the back foot and trades close to the 2016 low of $26.19 as the shutdown of many economic activities implies a plunge in demand. 

Cryptocurrencies have stabilized after several volatile days, with Bitcoin holding above $5,000. 

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