The coronavirus will stall the U.S. economy without causing a contraction, according to a Goldman Sachs forecast issued Sunday.

GDP growth will slow to 0.7% in the current quarter, the worst pace since the financial crisis, and grind to a halt in the second quarter, said the group led by Jan Hatzius, the investment bank’s chief U.S. economist.

The third quarter likely will see 1% growth, and the fourth quarter is expected to post a 2.3% expansion, according to the forecast.

“We lowered our Q1 GDP tracking forecast by two tenths over the past week to 0.7% based on a downward revision to January wholesale inventories and declines in U.S. and global trade volumes,” the report said.

The investment bank also is predicting the Federal Reserve will lower its benchmark rate by half a percentage point at its two-day meeting ending March 18 and another half a percentage point at its meeting a month later. That would put the rate in the 0.5% to 0.75% range, the lowest in three years.

The Fed made a rare inter-meeting emergency rate cut of half a percentage point last week in an effort to bolster the economy and calm coronavirus fears.

The coronavirus outbreak has sickened about 110,000 people in more than 100 countries and is close to being declared a pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Monday. Officials reported over 500 cases in the U.S. and 22 deaths from the disease named COVID-19.

The U.S. economy is struggling with the global impact of the coronavirus that emerged in China at the end of last year. Within two months, the number of people infected with COVID-19 surpassed the 2002 to 2003 total for SARS, the last time the world faced a similar challenge.

Back then, China accounted for about 4% of the global economy. Now, its share is about 17%. Quarantines in China have resulted in supply-chain disruptions for U.S. companies, as well as a drop in global trade volume and U.S. tourism.

By: Kathleen Howley, HW