The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday warned of a global shortage and price gouging for protective equipment to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus and asked companies and governments to increase production by 40% as the death toll from the respiratory illness mounted. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates on Tuesday in an emergency move to try to prevent a global recession and the World Bank announced $12 billion to help countries fight the coronavirus, which has taken a heavy toll on air travel, tourism and other industries, threatening global economic growth prospects. The virus continued to spread in South Korea, Japan, Europe, Iran and the United States, and several countries reported their first confirmed cases, taking the total to some 80 nations hit with the flu-like illness that can lead to pneumonia. Despite the Fed’s attempt to stem the economic fallout from the coronavirus, U.S. stock indexes closed down about 3%, safe-haven gold rose 3% and analysts and investors questioned whether the rate cut will be enough if the virus continues to spread. U.S. lawmakers were considering spending as much as $9 billion to contain local spread of the virus.
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