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S&P expects coronavirus crisis to stabilize globally in April

The novel coronavirus crisis is projected to stabilize around the world in April, with "virtually" no new transmissions expected in May, S&P Global Ratings said, adding that the virus outbreak's economic impact could peak in the first half of 2020.

In a worst-case scenario, the spread of the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is expected to stop in late May, according to S&P Global Ratings. In an optimistic projection, the rating agency expects the outbreak to end in March.

"In turn, this suggests that the peak impact on economic activity across Asia-Pacific will be in the first and second quarters," the rating agency said in a note.

Growth across Asia-Pacific economies should stabilize later in 2020 before recovering in early 2021 as the virus outbreak's temporary impact on economic activity fades, S&P Global Ratings added.

The rating agency expects governments to implement relief measures such as subsidies and tax cuts to cushion the economic impact of the virus. It warned, however, that in case the epidemic lingers on unchecked, the resulting slower economic growth would worsen the "already weaker" fiscal performance of various Asia-Pacific economies.

In China, household spending will bear the brunt of the economic impact from the epidemic, the rating agency said, citing lockdowns and quarantines that have led to decreased passenger flows and closure of property sales offices.

The coronavirus outbreak has also resulted in the closure of some retail stores and offices in China, including those of Apple Inc. and Google LLC.

The disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak could bring down China's GDP growth to 5% or lower, according to an earlier report that cited Zhang Ming, an economist at government think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.