Stocks Climb as Wall Street Weighs U.S. Rescue Deal: Live Updates


If you want to shut down an economy to fight a pandemic without driving millions of people and businesses into bankruptcy, you need the government to cut some checks. The coronavirus response deal that congressional leaders struck early Wednesday will get a lot of checks in the mail, but they’ll soothe only a few months of financial pain.

The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, is the biggest fiscal stimulus package in modern American history, and more than double the size of the roughly $800 billion stimulus package that Congress passed in 2009 to ease the Great Recession.

Among the items in the bill are:

  • $350 billion in loans for small businesses to help bridge their expenses for up to 10 weeks. Firms would not need to repay up to eight weeks of the loans if they refrain from laying off employees, or move by June to rehire employees they have already laid off. Supporters of the measure say those loans, if rapidly deployed, could help thousands of firms survive, at least temporarily.

  • $500 billion in aid to airlines and other large corporations that have been hurt by a cratering of consumer demand amid the crisis. Much of the money would be used to backstop loans and other assistance that the Federal Reserve said it plans to extend to companies.

  • A $1,200 payment for each adult — and $500 per child — in households that earn up to $75,000 per year for individuals or $150,000 for couples. The assistance phases out for people who earn more.

Economists hailed the emerging agreement as a good start — one that works on multiple fronts to keep money flowing through the parts of the economy that have been suddenly rendered inactive. But some warned that it may not actually be large enough, given the enormous economic challenge the United States faces today.

“Much of the small business community is facing an extinction-level event,” said John Lettieri, the chief of the Economic Innovation Group think tank in Washington, who pushed heavily for a package of small business loans in the agreement. “Will this bill help? Absolutely. But the lending capacity needed to prevent mass closures and layoffs could be four or five times larger than what is being provided.”

Investors started sizing up a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package to shore up the American economy, and stocks inched higher on Wednesday, adding to a surge the day before.

After opening slightly lower, the S&P 500 climbed in early trading. Some of the companies expected to benefit from government help led the gains. Boeing was up more than 20 percent, helping lift the Dow Jones industrial average by more than 3 percent; American Airlines jumped more than 15 percent; Carnival Corp. jumped 12 percent. All three had logged double-digit gains on Tuesday as talks on the package progressed.

Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate finally came to agreement in the early hours of the day. On Tuesday, stocks on Wall Street had their best day since 2008 on expectations of the stimulus deal.

Lawmakers and their aides were still finishing the massive legislation that would enact the country’s biggest emergency spending plan ever, so only the broad outlines were known. The Senate was expected to vote Wednesday.

Governments elsewhere are also laying out plans to help. On Monday, Germany prepared an emergency budget and rescue fund for companies and state-supported loans. European Union leaders are working on additional measures to help loosen up money for some countries to help soften the economic blow of the virus.

Though investors have welcomed the plans, few are willing to conclusively say that the worst of the market sell-off is over.

On Wednesday, European stocks initially rallied but gains soon faded.

Widespread social distancing measures put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus have hammered consumer spending, the heart of the American economy. Economists are expecting almost unthinkable declines in the gross domestic product in the second quarter. Analysts at Capital Economics said on Wednesday that they now expect growth in the U.S. to fall 40 percent in the second quarter, at an annualized pace, as the unemployment rate jumps to 12 percent — higher than its 10 percent peak in 2009.

Markets have been volatile in recent weeks, seesawing on sentiment that has veered between hope that governments around the world will take strong measures to stem economic losses from the spread of the coronavirus, and fear that policymakers are not making bold enough decisions.

“Encouragingly, recent new lows in stocks have been accompanied by either sideways or even lower volatility, indicating markets are starting to become more comfortable with the potential range of outcomes we face,” Paul Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a note to investors.

By now, you may have had a few video calls with colleagues who took meetings in odd places, like their bathroom or closet, to avoid their children. Then there are the colleagues who surrender their boundaries entirely and let their children and pets be a part of the meeting.

We all get it: No one was really prepared for this transition, and there are limits to what we can all do. But now feels like an opportunity to bring up how to be kinder to your co-workers in workplace video calls, since they’re the ones the calls are really for in the end.

Reporting was contributed by Jim Tankersley, Alexandra Stevenson, David Gelles, Brian X. Chen, Elaine Yu, Daniel Victor, Jason Karaian, Kevin Granville and Carlos Tejada.



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