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World stocks drop again as Fed rescue action falls flat

AFP  |  London 

Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic resumed their downward trend on Monday, as a rollout by the Federal Reserve of another flurry of measures for companies failed to turn their fearful mood around.

The Fed's move came shortly after a trillion-dollar Senate proposal to rescue the reeling US economy crashed to defeat Sunday, with a devastating impact first on Asian stock markets, and then those in Europe and the US.

For a while it looked like equity markets were ready to rise again, with US futures higher ahead of Wall Street's opening bell as the Fed went "all in", said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, "to infinity and beyond".

"While US politicians continue to procrastinate the US central bank has decided to double down, and go all in, by not only helping Wall Street, but by also helping to keep Main Street on its feet as well," he said.

But in the absence of the US government doing something similarly ambitious, analysts said monetary policy was showing its limits.

"It's time for Congress to get its act together as well," said Craig Erlam, at OANDA.

European markets did, however, come off their worst levels as the Fed announcement was compounded by an unprecedented move by the German government, which ditched constitutional debt limits and said it would raise 156 billion euros of new money to fight the impact of the novel coronavirus.

"The package aims to protect the economy with a shield that is sufficient to withstand even a plausible adverse scenario," Oxford Economics said of the German announcement.

"At over 1 trillion euros, or over 30 percent of GDP, the package is now one of the largest around the world and the largest in the country's history," it said.

But investors were just too spooked by a mounting global death toll from the pandemic to be swayed.

"Markets are again showing stress on fears that the economic damage will be worse than anticipated and that the response by governments and central banks will not be enough to prevent a mammoth recession," said analyst Neil Wilson at trading site

Asia had earlier posted heavy losses.

Tokyo was the exception, closing two percent higher as a cheaper yen against the dollar boosted shares in Japanese exporters.

One effect of the Fed action was to help the dollar off its three-year pinnacle against the euro seen as investors shunned risky equities and flocked to the haven greenback instead.

The global death toll from the virus has now surged past 15,000, with nearly a billion people confined and non-essential businesses shut in dozens of countries and growing fears about a recession.

"A leap in the global death toll led by Italy from the coronavirus coupled with a failed stimulus vote in the United States saw markets rocked at the start of the week," said London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 21:50 IST