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European Markets Mostly Higher After U.S. Agreement: Live Updates – The New York Times

Markets across Asia and Europe were mostly higher on Wednesday as investors cheered a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package to shore up the American economy.

The positive mood looked likely to carry over onto Wall Street as trading in futures indicated a strong opening for stocks there as well. On Tuesday, traders in New York had their best day since 2008 on expectations of the stimulus deal.

Major exchanges in Europe opened strongly on Wednesday, but their gains had frittered away by late morning.

In the Asia-Pacific region, markets finished the day on fresh weekly highs. Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped more than 8 percent, even as the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games said they would postpone the event by a year. Chinese stocks rallied, with Shanghai’s SE Composite finishing the day 2.1 percent higher and Shenzhen stocks rising more than 3 percent.

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.

Senators and the Trump administration reached a deal early Wednesday on a huge stimulus bill that would help to provide a ballast for companies and industries hardest hit by the outbreak. It would also give money to Americans, many of whom have lost their jobs in recent days and weeks.

Elsewhere, governments have taken more concrete measures. 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.

On Monday, the S&P 500 on Wall Street gained more than 9 percent as investors expected Congress to pass the big stimulus.

“Today’s sharp equity rally shows that the combination of central banks’ entire Global Financial Crisis playbook and substantial, direct fiscal support can be well-received by markets,” Paul Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a note to investors about Tuesday’s performance on Wall Street.

“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,” Mr. Haefele added.

The price of oil initially rose more than 3 percent on Wednesday, but then fell into negative territory.

Senators and Trump administration officials reached an agreement early Wednesday on a roughly $2 trillion stimulus measure that would send direct payments and jobless benefits to individuals, as well as money to states and businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation, which is expected to be enacted within days, aims to deliver critical financial support to businesses forced to shut their doors and relief to American families and hospitals.

The deal, struck shortly before 1 a.m., was the product of a marathon set of negotiations among Senate Republicans, Democrats and President Trump’s team that nearly fell apart as Democrats insisted on stronger worker protections and oversight over a new $500 billion fund to bail out distressed businesses.

“We have a deal,” Eric Ueland, the White House legislative affairs director, told reporters just before 1 a.m., adding that the text of the bill still needed to be completed. “We have either clear, explicit legislative text reflecting all parties or we know exactly where we’re going to land on legislative text as we continue to finish.”

On Monday morning, American Airlines Flight 1 departed John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, bound for Los Angeles. It had six passengers.

The flight is normally one of the airline’s busiest and most profitable. Now it is a money pit, a cross-country symbol of how thoroughly the coronavirus pandemic has decimated commercial air travel in a matter of weeks.

Never before has customer demand dropped so swiftly, and never before has it been less clear when — or even whether — the global airline industry will truly recover.

“This is scary,” said José Freig, American’s head of Latin America operations, who is managing the company’s coronavirus response team. “It’s difficult to find a bottom on this one.”

In recent weeks, nearly every part of the airline, the largest in the United States, has been transformed by efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

Stocks in the United States soared on Tuesday on expectations that Congress was close to producing a stimulus bill to stabilize America’s faltering economy and offer lifelines to industries on the brink of collapse because of the coronavirus.

A plan to bail out companies and send checks of up to $1,200 to Americans had been stalled since Sunday over objections by Democrats. But on Tuesday, top Democrats and Trump administration officials said they were optimistic about finalizing an agreement on a roughly $2 trillion plan.

The S&P 500 had its biggest daily gain since 2008, rising more than 9 percent. Stocks in Europe climbed, led by Germany, where stocks rose more than 10 percent. Those gains followed a similar performance in Asia, where major markets around the region posted increases that ranked among their biggest gains in weeks.

The jump on Tuesday was in part a rebound from a difficult stretch for stock investors. On Monday, the S&P 500 fell about 3 percent as Congress struggled to overcome differences on the aid bill and traders remained cautious about the Federal Reserve’s ability to cushion the economy’s fall. Stocks are down almost 30 percent since their peak in February.

Dozens of American companies expect to resume normal operations in China by the end of April and keep their investment plans, a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce found.

While the pandemic has continued to cripple economies around the world, the Chinese authorities have started to revive production and ease their lockdown on Hubei Province, where the coronavirus first appeared. Last Thursday, China reported no new local infections for the first time since the outbreak began late last year.

After surveying nearly 120 firms, the chamber’s China branch said on Wednesday that some companies also planned to maintain investments they had previously set in motion, even as half the firms reported significant drops in revenue and others were pessimistic about economic growth amid the pandemic.

The timeline echoes predictions made by Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert in China, who has said the outbreak could be brought under control within the country by late April.

But reports have claimed that health officials in Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, are not publicizing the number of people with asymptomatic infections, raising fears that the virus is still spreading. Cases are also climbing among people arriving in the country from abroad, threatening to start a second wave of infections.

TECH FIX

But inevitably, with homes and workplaces merging into one, the boundaries between personal and professional lives are eroding — and awkward situations have ensued.

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 Alexandra Stevenson, David Gelles, Brian X. Chen, Elaine Yu, Daniel Victor, Kevin Granville and Carlos Tejada.

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