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UPDATE 1-Australian financial regulators in emergency meeting to discuss coronavirus impact -source

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By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY, March 2 (Reuters) – Australia’s financial regulators will discuss the impact of a new coronavirus outbreak on Australia’s A$2 trillion ($1.3 trillion) economy in an emergency meeting on Monday, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The conference call, involving the country’s prudential regulator, markets watchdog and the central bank, comes as financial markets price in a global policy response to the rapidly spreading epidemic.

There have been more than 85,000 coronavirus infections worldwide, the majority in China, the World Health Organization said. Outside China, it has spread to 53 countries, with more than 6,000 cases and 86 deaths.

In response, U.S. Federal Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank will “act as appropriate” to support the economy.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) meets on Tuesday for its monthly interest rate review. Financial futures are now implying a 96% chance of a quarter point cut to 0.5% compared with just 18% last week.

A Reuters poll last week found few analysts expected a cut.

Stock markets plunged last week, with an index of global stocks setting its largest weekly fall since the 2008 financial crisis, and more than $5 trillion wiped off the value of stocks worldwide.

A number of key conferences were canceled around the world, including one with Pope Francis in Italy later this month.

In Australia, a 78-year old man became the first fatality of the virus while a 63-year-old woman returning from Iran became infected in Queensland raising fears of an epidemic in the country.

$1 = 1.5430 Australian dollars Reporting by Swati Pandey; editing by Grant McCool and Sam Holmes

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