Thursday 26 March 2020 7:36 am

Stocks on course for sell-off despite $2 trillion US Covid-19 relief scheme

Global stocks are on course for a fresh sell-off, wiping out gains made in the past two days, despite a $2 trillion (£1.7 trillion) coronavirus relief scheme passing the US Senate.

The US Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion disaster aid bill, the largest economic stimulus in American history.

Read more: US stocks choppy as Wall Street weighs huge coronavirus stimulus

Stock markets rallied on Tuesday and Wednesday on hopes the stimulus would have a smooth passage as investors braced themselves for another recession.

The plan includes direct payments of $1,200 to adults with a salary of up to $75,000 and aid will be given to help small businesses pay workers.

The package also includes $58bn for the airline industry split between grants and loans to cover wages.

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The bill has cross-party support but it has to be passed in the Senate and House of Representatives before President Donald Trump signs it into law.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell described the package as a “wartime level of investment” in the nation.

The coronavirus crisis is deepening in the US after confirming almost 70,000 cases and at least 1,050 deaths. New York has become the virus hotspot in the US and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said it is likely more than 8m residents would catch Covid-19.

As of Wednesday morning, 199 New Yorkers had died from the virus and confirmed cases had reached 17,856.

Read more: FTSE 100 rises on $2 trillion US coronavirus stimulus

Stimulus by governments and central banks has done little to quell investors’ nerves, with stock market values more than 20 per cent down, on average, before Thursday’s open.

The Nikkei in Tokyo was down 4.5 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.73 per cent. In London, the FTSE 100 index was forecast to open almost 2 per cent lower.

Yesterday London’s blue-chip index closed 4.45 per cent higher after swinging in and out of negative territory earlier in the session.

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