Amid virus fears, Powell says Fed will “act as appropriate to support the economy”

The Fed chief’s statement came near the end of a terrible week for markets

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell, 2018
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell, 2018
(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, Getty Images)
Last Updated:
February 29, 2020 - 9:45am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday afternoon indicated that the Fed will monitor coronavirus developments and take action if necessary.

“The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook,” he said in a statement. “We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”

Powell offered reassurance that although the health scare has the potential to harm economic conditions, the nation’s economy remains basically sound.

“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong,” he said. “However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity."

Powell’s statement came at 2:30PM EST near the conclusion of a tumultuous week in which markets suffered significant losses as anxiety about the spreading virus loomed ominously around the globe. 

The Dow Jones Industrial average declined by over 350 points on Friday, staving off an even larger loss with a big rally in the final 15 minutes of trading. 

On the previous day, the Dow posted the largest single-day point drop in history, plunging nearly 1,200 points.

Thursday’s market mayhem followed losses amassed earlier in the week, including a more than 1,000-point plunge on Monday.

The Dow lost over 3,500 points this week, making it the worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

During a press conference earlier this week President Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence will lead efforts to confront the health scare, and he said that the U.S. is well prepared to deal with the crisis.

“Now, it may get bigger," the president acknowledged at the Wednesday evening press conference. "It may get a little bigger, it may not get bigger at all. We’ll see what happens. But regardless of what happens, we’re totally prepared.”