U.S. Equity Markets started the week lower as investors saw little progress on a Congressional spending package to blunt the fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic. Measures of corporate credit risk eased after the Federal Reserve announced a massive second wave of initiatives to support a shuttered American economy. The S&P 500 closed lower, despite a late-session surge, after lawmakers failed to agree on a stimulus bill over the weekend and again fell short of the needed Senate votes for a deal on Monday. Tech shares outperformed, with the NASDAQ 100 eking out a small gain, as negotiations continued on Capitol Hill. Trading volumes remained above average. The S&P is down almost 35% from its Feb. 19 record and marked its lowest close of Donald Trump’s presidency. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost almost all its gains since he was elected on Nov. 8, 2016. The central bank said it will buy an unlimited amount of bonds to keep borrowing costs low and will set up programmes to ensure credit flows to corporations and state and local governments. The cost to insure against corporate defaults fell and bond ETFs eligible for Fed purchases jumped. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell as the Continent’s leaders sought to impose more curbs on people’s movements and Italy began shutting most industrial production. Core European bonds climbed. Equities fell earlier across most of Asia, where India’s benchmark plunged a record 13% while the Rupee sank to the lowest ever amid moves to lock down widespread areas of the country. Brent crude stabilized after its 20% decline last week; West Texas crude gained, as did gold. Investors are beginning another dramatic week digesting slashed economic forecasts and news of Europeans struggling to curb the pandemic, with Italy and Spain reporting 2,000 deaths over the weekend between them. Warnings grew that a global recession is coming as cities from New York to Los Angeles all but shut down and cases rise rapidly outside Asia. The U.K. is in lockdown after Boris Johnson ordered sweeping measures to stop people leaving their homes “at this moment of national emergency.” As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the country, the Prime Minister approved a radical ban on all unnecessary movement of people for at least three weeks. Police will break up gatherings and have the power to fine individuals who defy the tough new laws. The unprecedented steps represent the most dramatic and widespread restrictions on the movement of people the country has faced in peacetime.
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