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Virus Remains Growing Public Health Threat, But Also Intimidating Financial Markets


ABOVE: Dan Celia, president, and CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries appeared on Thursday afternoon's edition of CBN's Newswatch to discuss the current financial markets and reminds viewers "not to panic."  Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel.  For a programming guide, click here.  

The coronavirus is emerging this week not just as a growing public health threat, but as a very real financial concern for many.

US markets fell again Thursday as the virus continues to spread.

It has now infected people in at least 47 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. 

The Associated Press reported that Saudia Arabia has closed off the holiest sites in Islam to foreign pilgrims over the outbreak. This has disrupted travel for thousands of Muslims already headed to the kingdom and is potentially affecting plans later this year for millions more ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan and the annual hajj pilgrimage.

The unprecedented move, which wasn't taken even during the 1918 flu epidemic that killed tens of millions worldwide, showed the growing worry about the virus across the Middle East, which has more than 360 confirmed cases.

Galilee Research Institute's Scientists Say They Will Have Vaccine in a Few Weeks

Now comes word from Israeli scientists that they will have an oral vaccine to prevent the virus in just a few weeks.

The Jerusalem Post reports scientists at the Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL) are close to developing the first vaccine to fight the virus. The vaccine could be ready in a few weeks and available after 90 days, according to Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis.

First California Case Without Travel Contact

A new coronavirus case in California could be the first in the US that has no known connection to travel abroad or to another known case, a possible sign the virus is spreading in a US community, health officials said.

Solano County health officials said in a statement Thursday they are working with local, state, and federal officials to identify people who may have been exposed to the person infected in the county. 

"While this is considered a serious public health threat, the risk to Solano County residents and the general public is low at this time," the county health department said.

Markets Shudder for the Third Day 

Meanwhile, stocks have fallen for three straight days this week amid worries about an economic fallout erasing all of this year's market gains. 

If the SP closes at 10 percent below the record high it set last week, it would mark what market watchers call a "correction" a normal phenomenon that analysts have said was long overdue in this bull market, which is the longest in history.

President Trump addressed the country on Wednesday saying the virus is not the only factor causing the stock market to tumble. But he said, either way, he remains confident in the economy.

"And it certainly took a hit because of this. And I understand that also because of supply chains and various other things and people coming in. But I think the stock market will recover. The economy is very strong," Trump said. "The consumer is the strongest it's ever been. Our consumers are incredible. They're incredible, that's why we're doing well and other countries have not, even before the virus."

The president also said he's asking Congress for more than $2.5 billion for necessary preparations. 

Financial Expert Says "Don't Panic"

But could the coronavirus really take out corporate profits and possibly trigger a recession?

Dan Celia, president, and CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries says everything President Trump said on Wednesday was correct. 

"But could it wipe out corporate profits and push us into recession? It certainly could, but it's hard to make a call like that, that Goldman made -- because we don't know the extent of this yet," he said during an interview aired Thursday afternoon CBN's Newswatch.

"And if it looks as though there's not going to be a containment of the spread a whole lot further. If we have here in the United States what they have in China, Switzerland or other places, then yes it's going to hurt corporate profits for the rest of the year primarily due to the supply chain and the lack of demand for whatever it is they do for over the next year," Celia explained. 

Celia gave an example of how the virus outbreak could affect the US economy.

"A great example is the auto industry. Now, most of the auto parts companies in Japan and China are shut down. People have said to me "We have Toytota manufacturing here in America. They can ramp up.' Well, they can't do it without the parts. The parts are coming from other places. So the supply chain being shut down is going to shut down some of the plants here.  We will at some point and time see layoffs. This is going to be a problem for our GDP -- Gross Domestic Product."

The head of the Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries also gave advice to people concerned about their savings.

"My advice is don't change anything," he said. "Please, please. Do not get caught up in the fear of what might happen or the fear of what is happening to your portfolios, your investments, your 401-Ks, your IRAs. Please don't get caught up in that, because you're going to be selling if you do."

"Every crisis in three to four years, we were back and then some, on average 40 percent, " Celia explained. "I think it's going to be the same scenario. So if you are an investor and you're in it for the long term, this is not a time to be fearful. If you are a young person and you are contributing to your 401K, do not allow this fear to stop your contribution, because this downturn is good for you. You're buying shares on sale. You have a very long term time horizon.

"So in the short term, this market is going to continue to be bad, make no mistake about it," he noted. "It is going to continue to go down. 
It is not going to be a "V" shaped recovery but will be a "U" shaped recovery. It's going to be down for a while, but it will start recovering and the key is to stay in and not to panic."

Stay with CBNNews.com for the latest on the coronavirus as we continue to provide updates here and on the CBN News Channel. For a programming schedule, click here

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