By Lisandra Paraguassu
MIAMI (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday played down the coronavirus outbreak and said turmoil in financial markets, including the biggest fall in Brazilian stocks since 1998 the day before, was a result of “fantasy” and did not represent a crisis.
Speaking in Miami during a U.S. visit, Bolsonaro also said President Donald Trump had indicated his willingness to strike a bilateral free trade deal, and that talks would begin soon.
“During the past year, obviously, we have had moments of crisis. A lot of that is fantasy. And coronavirus, which is not all the mainstream media makes it out to be,” he said.
Bolsonaro said Monday’s crash in global oil prices was fueled by the media.
“Some of the press managed to turn a fall in the oil price into crisis. I understand that … it is better (headlines) to drop 30% than to raise 30%. But this is not a crisis,” Bolsonaro said.
Bolsonaro was speaking at an investor event hosted by the Forum of the Americas, a think thank created by Brazilian businessman Mario Garnero and backed by the Confederation of Industry and other private companies.
The event sold for $1,000 per person and had slightly more than 90 attendees.
“Obviously, there are problems on the stock market. This happens sporadically. But as we are seeing, markets have opened today and are beginning to show signs of recovery,” he said.
Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock market rose as much as 6% early Tuesday, but pared gains to 2% shortly after midday.
On Monday, the Bovespa plunged 12.3% for its biggest one-day fall since October 1998, slammed by mounting fears over coronavirus and a 30% drop in world oil prices.
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)