Stocks rebound as US makes economic moves against virus

John BIERS
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Despite attempts to soothe markets with massive stimulus pledges and rate cuts, more countries are going into lockdown bringing the world economy juddering to a halt

Stocks rebounded Tuesday following Wall Street's sharpest daily drop in more than three decades as the US and European governments signaled more stimulus measures to address the economic hit from the coronavirus.

A day after shedding almost 3,000 points, the Dow finished up 5.2 percent or around 1,050 points at 21,237.38.

European bourses also climbed higher, with both France and Spain announcing tens of billions of euros in aid, while oil prices fell further on a worsening demand outlook.

"Today's bounce was much needed to ease the panic among investors, but the uncertainty remains very high, and bulls should be ready for more volatile swings," said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman.

"While it's hard to judge the effectiveness of the proposed stimulus plans, the quick and decisive action by global governments and central banks seem to have reduced ’systemic’ risks today, and the restored trust could be vital for stocks in the coming weeks."

- Hit from social distancing -

With some of Europe's biggest economies on lockdown and major centers in the United States such as New York and San Francisco also ramping down, governments are eyeing a massive push to prop up companies and avert deep layoffs.

The Trump administration is reportedly considering as much as $1 trillion stimulus to boost the consumer-driven US economy as activity grinds to a standstill at many restaurants and shops.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House is focused on a stimulus that would include sending checks to Americans within the next two weeks.

But more economists now expect the US to slip into a recession that will include a sharp slowdown in the second quarter.

"The impact of social distancing on consumer spending activity and a knockdown effect on business investment, together with the oil price hit on capital investments in energy infrastructure and expanded travel bans, likely means a -1.0% reading in the first quarter and a large contraction of 6.0% for GDP growth in the second, signaling recession for the US," said Beth Ann Bovino, US chief economist at S&P Global.

In Europe, both London and Paris closed 2.8 percent higher. Frankfurt rose 2.3 percent and Milan 2.2 percent.

The Italian government moved to re-nationalize the bankrupt former national carrier Alitalia under an emergency economic rescue package, and France signaled it would not hesitate to nationalize firms to protect them from collapsing.

In a move meant to help tame the massive volatility in the markets caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the French bourse regulator on Tuesday banned short-selling in 92 top stocks for the day.

The Philippines became the first country to shut down its stock market as the country goes into lockdown, and the bourse will be closed until further notice.

Oil prices continued to tumble, with Brent futures in London diving 4.4 percent to $28.83, closing below the $30 a barrel for the first time since early 2016.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 5.2 percent at 21,237.38 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 6.0 percent at 2,529.19 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 6.2 percent at 7,334.78 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 2.8 percent at 5,294.90 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 2.3 percent at 8,939.10 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 2.8 percent at 3,991.78 (close)

Milan - FTSE MIB: UP 2.2 percent at 15,314.77 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 3.3 percent at 2,530.50 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 17,011.53 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.9 percent at 23,263.73 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,779.64 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.64 yen from 105.87 yen at 2130 GMT

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1002 from $1.1181

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2055 from $1.2298

Euro/pound: UP at 91.19 pence from 91.05 pence

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 4.4 percent at $28.73 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 6.1 percent at $26.95 per barrel

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