IMF delays release of new forecast to Jan 25 to factor in COVID-19 developments

The IMF logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund will release its World Economic Outlook on Jan. 25, a week later than planned, to factor in the latest COVID-19 developments, a spokesperson for the global lender said on Tuesday, amid signs another downgrade is coming.

“The World Economic Outlook update will be launched on January 25 to allow our teams to incorporate the latest developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic into the economic forecasts," the spokesperson said.

IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice last month told reporters to expect the update on Jan. 19.

Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva last month told the Reuters Next conference that the IMF was likely to further downgrade its global economic growth projections in January to reflect the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

In October, the IMF had forecast global economic growth of 5.9% in 2021 and 4.9% this year, while underscoring the uncertainty posed by the new coronavirus variants.

The coronavirus has killed nearly 5.8 million people worldwide over the past two years.

Economists expect the IMF to cut its economic forecast for the United States, the world's largest economy, given the rapid spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, as well as the failure of Congress to pass U.S. President Joe Biden's $1.2 trillion social and climate spending package.

In October, it had already slashed its forecast for U.S. Gross Domestic Product growth in 2021 by a full percentage point to 6%, citing supply chain disruptions and a labor crunch, while forecasting growth of 5.2% in 2022.

Since then, the pandemic has surged again, and divisions in Congress have deepened.

The United States set a global record of almost 1 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, and its daily average has totalled 486,000 cases over the last week, a rate higher than that of any other country.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by David Lawder

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