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Here is what you need to know on Thursday, February 20:

Coronavirus: Fears are dominating markets once again after the number of cases in South Korea doubled and two people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship died. China has changed its counting methodology once again, causing confusion. On the economic front, Beijing has provided more liquidity and cut requirements for the household loans but some see it as insufficient. 

USD/JPY has been consolidating its gains well above 111 after soaring on Wednesday. A combination of data-related dollar strength, receding coronavirus fears, the triggering of stops, and a late reaction to dismal Japanese growth figures are behind the meteoric rise. The downbeat market mood is helping the yen stabilize.

Gold prices have topped $1,612 amid coronavirus fears and other reasons. It is the highest since 2013. The precious metal has been extending its gains that began in 2019 and topped the peak seen around the Iran crisis early in 2020.

See Gold Price Analysis: Pulls back amid overbought RSI, multiple upside barriers ahead

AUD/USD has hit new 11-year lows at 0.6630 after Australia reported a disappointing increase in the unemployment rate to 5.3% in January. It is hovering around the lows last seen in 2009.

EUR/USD is also near the 34-month lows of 1.0782 after having almost fully closed the “Macron Gap” from 2017. The European Central Bank’s minutes from the January decision may shed more light on the bank’s next moves. Germany’s weakness may prompt more stimulus. Details of the ECB’s strategic review are also eyed.

See ECB Minutes Preview: Coronavirus, inflation, and strategic review comments set to move EUR/USD.

GBP/USD also dropped sharply to around 1.29 despite higher than expected inflation figures. The pound has come under pressure after EU ambassadors failed to agree on a position toward the UK in post-Brexit talks. UK retail sales are forecast to show an increase in January after two months of substantial falls. 

The Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes have confirmed the bank’s stance that it intends to leave rates unchanged. The minutes also provided several technical details about the Fed’s plan to taper down the buying of short-term bonds. 

See FOMC minutes mix economic optimism and caution

The Philly Fed Manufacturing Index is of interest on Thursday. On Wednesday, Housing Starts, Building Permits, and the Producer Price Index are all beat expectations. 

Cryptocurrencies suffered a sell-off late on Wednesday. Bitcoin is trading around $9,500, Ethereum at around $260, and XRP below $0.30.

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