US regulators urge banks to aid borrowers hit by virus

US banking regulators on Monday urged financial institutions to work with borrowers feeling the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, hinting they will ease up on rules.

Banks "should work constructively with borrowers and other customers in affected communities," the agencies said in a joint statement, adding that "prudent efforts that are consistent with safe and sound lending practices should not be subject to examiner criticism."

The regulators including the Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation also said they would work to reschedule bank examinations for any institutions facing staffing and other challenges.

"The agencies recognize the potential impact of the coronavirus on the customers, members and operations of many financial institutions, and will provide appropriate regulatory assistance to affected institutions subject to their supervision," the statement said.

The Fed has been pulling on every lever to help ensure the financial system is working as the coronavirus epidemic washes up on US shores and is already being felt by businesses and farms nationwide.

The central bank last week cut the benchmark lending rate by a half point to 1.0-1.25 percent, and on Monday sharply increased daily cash infusions into financial markets through $150 billion in daily short term loans to banks.