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Coronavirus outbreak seen so far having ‘marginal’ impact on EU economy: sources

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The coronavirus outbreak is expected at this stage to have only a “marginal” impact on the European Union’s economy, two EU officials told Reuters on Tuesday.

The coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 1,000 people in China and has squeezed its economy, with firms struggling to get back to work after an extended Lunar New Year. Many say they will need loans running into billions of dollars to stay afloat.

Under a scenario where coronavirus trims China’s economic growth this year by 1 percentage point, the impact on the economy of the 27-nation EU would not be significant, said the EU officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Any economic slowdown is expected “at this stage” to remain confined to China and other Asian nations, the EU officials said, leading to a possible downward revision in overall global growth this year of up to 0.2 percentage points.

However, the EU sources said their assessment remains preliminary and conditional on the effectiveness of measures to tackle the outbreak, the officials warned.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will release on Thursday its quarterly forecasts for the bloc’s growth both this year and next.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Gareth Jones)