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Asian shares advance after stimulus surge on Wall Street
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Asian shares advance after stimulus surge on Wall Street

Asian shares advance after stimulus surge on Wall Street
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko
A woman looks at an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Friday, March 27, 2020. Shares are mostly higher in Asia after stocks surged again on Wall Street with the approaching approval of a massive coronavirus relief bill by Congress.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Asian shares advance after stimulus surge on Wall Street

Shares advanced on Friday in Asia after Wall Street logged a third straight day of gains with the approaching congressional approval of a massive coronavirus relief bill.

Tokyo and Seoul jumped 1.2% and Shanghai added 0.6%, while stocks fell in Australia.

Wall Street appeared to shrug off miserable news on unemployment as the S&P 500 rose 6.2%, bringing its three-day rally to 17.6%. The Dow industrials have risen an even steeper 21.3% since Monday.

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, easily shattering the prior record set in 1982, as layoffs and business shutdowns sweep across the country.

Analysts said the market shot higher Thursday because the bad news on unemployment was expected. The gains earlier this week came as Capitol Hill and the Federal Reserve promised an astonishing amount of aid for the economy and markets, hoping to support them as the outbreak causes more businesses to shut down by the day.

“There is no sugar coating these numbers — they are bad,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner for Harris Financial Group. “Markets have had several days to digest what everyone knew was coming; therefore, the market response to these numbers may differ than what people might expect.”

Despite the big gains, the S&P 500 remains 22% below its February high and analysts expect more dire economic headlines, and market turbulence, in the days ahead.

Companies are also expected to report discouraging results in just a few weeks as earnings season begins. Very few have dared to issue forecasts capturing how big a hit the virus will inflict on their profits.

Late Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved the $2.2 trillion plan, which includes direct payments to U.S. households and aid to hard-hit industries. The House of Representatives is expected to approve it Friday.

The prospect of a big financial shot in the arm for businesses and households helped offset some of the concerns about the steep job losses the economy is beginning to see due to the coronavirus.

It also reassured world markets.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index was at 18,895.30 by midday Friday, and South Korea's Kospi rose to 1,707.20. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.8% to 23,528.94, while the Shanghai Composite index was at 2,781.40. Jakarta's benchmark jumped 5.7% and Singapore's climbed 2.1%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 2.4% to 4,989.10.

Investors still need to see stability in banks and, especially, in oil prices to maintain confidence, because markets could be in for another slide if oil goes below $20 a barrel, said Andrew Slimmon, managing director and senior portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

Benchmark U.S. oil was steady, gaining 27 cents to $22.87 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It slid 7.7% on Thursday to settle at $22.60 a barrel. Goldman Sachs has forecast that it will fall well below $20 a barrel in the next two months because storage will be filled to the brim and wells will have to be shut in.

Brent crude, the international standard, added 14 cents to $28.79 per barrel.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that where the market was yesterday we won’t see that again,” Slimmon said. “There is bad news still to come.”

So far, there's no reassurance on the spread of the pandemic.

The United States has more than 85,000 known cases, and the worldwide number of infections has topped a half-million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll has climbed to more than 24,000, while more than 120,000 have recovered.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

In currency trading, the dollar fell to 108.39 Japanese yen from 109.62 yen late Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.1065 from $1.1024.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 0.81% on Friday from 0.83% late Thursday. It had been as low as 0.77% just before the jobless report was released. Lower yields reflect dimmer expectations for economic growth and greater demand for low-risk assets.

Boeing continued to climb after soaring more than 24% Wednesday in part on expectations that it stands to gain from the Congressional aid package. The aircraft manufacturer was the biggest gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, rising 13.7%.

The Dow was also adding to its gains this week. It rose 6.4%, or 1,351.62 points to 22,552.17. The Nasdaq gained 413.24 points, or 5.6%, to 7,797.54. The benchmark S&P 500 index rose 154.51 points to 2,630.07.

Despite the solid rally this week, analysts say further big drops are common until there have been enough sustained gains in the market to ease investors' fear of further declines.

"Historically, you do test the bottom one, two, three times before you're convinced it's over and then you build up again toward that viable rally," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “What you have here, obviously, is a concern about how deep the recession is going to be and when are we going to come out.”

____

AP Business Writers Alex Veiga, Damian J. Troise and Stan Choe contributed.

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  • More than 860,000 people worldwide -- including more than 189,000 people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals brace for unprecedented patient surges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Wednesday, April 1, continue below: Captain of embattled aircraft carrier requests Navy evacuation as coronavirus infects sailors Update 3:17 a.m. EDT April 1: In a letter dated March 30, U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier requested the military evacuation of 90 percent of the 4,000-member crew aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, besieged by the novel coronavirus. Specifically, Crozier asked that the evacuees be moved into isolation on Guam, The Washington Post reported. “Decisive action is required. Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” Crozier wrote, adding, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.” Read more here. China announces 1,367 asymptomatic coronavirus cases Update 3:03 a.m. EDT April 1: China’s National Health Commission confirmed on Wednesday it is monitoring a total of 1,367 asymptomatic novel coronavirus infections. According to the commission, 130 of those total cases were diagnosed on Tuesday, alone, while 302 were released from quarantine. To date, China has confirmed a total 82,294 cases nationwide, but it was not immediately clear if that figure includes the asymptomatic cases. Kroger announces $2-per-hour ‘hero bonus’ for employees on coronavirus front lines Update 2:44 a.m. EDT April 1: U.S. supermarket chain Kroger announced early Wednesday it will pay staff members still working amid the worsening novel coronavirus outbreak an additional $2-per-hour “hero bonus.” “Our associates have displayed the true actions of a hero, working tirelessly on the front lines to ensure everyone has access to affordable, fresh food and essentials during this national emergency,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement announcing the bonuses. The pay bump – benefitting all front-line grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center staff – applies to all hours worked between March 29 and April 18. UN Secretary-General: Coronavirus ‘attacking societies at their core’ Update 2:21 a.m. EDT April 1: Citing the “human crisis” created by the novel coronavirus pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the collective global response the “greatest test” since World War II. Guterres’ insights were published in a new report released Tuesday. “COVID-19 is the greatest test that we have faced together since the formation of the United Nations,” Guterres stated in the report, adding, “This human crisis demands coordinated, decisive, inclusive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies – and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries. But this is much more than a health crisis. It is a human crisis. The coronavirus disease is attacking societies at their core.' Read the full report here. US coronavirus deaths hit 4,076, total cases top 189K Update 12:31 a.m. EDT April 1: By early Wednesday morning, the number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States neared 200,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 189,510 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 4,076 deaths. U.S. cases now outnumber those in any other nation by wide margins, including the 105,792 reported in Italy and the 95,923 confirmed in Spain. Of the confirmed U.S. deaths, 1,550 – or nearly half of the nationwide total – have occurred in New York, 267 in New Jersey and 259 in Michigan.  In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with at least 75,795 confirmed cases – or roughly four times the next-closest state – followed by New Jersey with 18,696 and Michigan with 7,615. Three other states have now confirmed at least 6,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 6,932, including 150 deaths • Florida: 6,732, including 84 deaths • Massachusetts: 6,220, including 89 deaths Meanwhile, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington state each has confirmed at least 5,000 novel coronavirus infections; Pennsylvania and Georgia each has confirmed at least 4,000 cases; Texas and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 3,000 cases; and Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 2,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s complete state-by-state breakdown.
  • A 'Stranger Things' star and her family have donated tens of thousands of meals to food banks amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Albuquerque Journal, 16-year-old actress Millie Bobby Brown took to Instagram on Friday to announce that she and her family had given 20,000 meals each to food banks in New Mexico, where the popular Netflix series had been scheduled to film its next season, and Atlanta, where the show had previously filmed. “While we stay home and do our part to flatten the curve, we must not forget those in need,” wrote Brown, who plays Eleven. “My thoughts are with the great people and crew from Santa Fe, NM whom we didn’t yet get to meet in our company move on ‘Stranger Things.’ In appreciation of this community, my family and I have donated 20,000 meals to The Food Depot, which will provide meals for those hungry in the Northern New Mexico service area.” Brown added: “Also, to all those in Atlanta who have embraced us, to the ST crew and their families, you’re in our thoughts. My family and I have donated 20,000 meals to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which will provide meals for those hungry in their service area.” >> See the post here Brown also urged her fans to “find enjoyment in the simple things” during social distancing.'Reflect on the impact of great people and then share the love with others,' she continued. “A special shout-out to those who have supported me, inspired and empowered me, whom I admire and just make me happy.” Several other celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Kylie Jenner and Arnold Schwarzenegger, also have made large donations to organizations that are helping with coronavirus relief efforts. Read more here or here.
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  • When Rocky Friedman of Port Townsend, Washington gathered with his sisters last year to plan for their mother’s 100th birthday celebration March 31, she serendipitously sent a one-sentence email. “Don’t forget to invite Amal and George Clooney.” Friedman said his mother, Miriam, “lives on her own, walks for exercise, reads voraciously, can tell you far more about professional sports than her son will ever know, and rocks my world with her unconditional love.” Friedman, who owns the historic Rose Theatre in Port Townsend, wondered what was possible. He shared the story Tuesday in an email to Rose Theatre supporters “because in the challenging times that we live, I think it will make you smile, and we all need that.” Through a little research and four intermediaries, Friedman was encouraged to write to Clooney with his request. “I asked if he would please consider writing a short congratulatory note to my mom on reaching this milestone. I emphasized - with less than subtlety - that at nearly 100 she was very likely his oldest fan. How could he refuse?” He didn’t. “Dear Miriam,” Clooney wrote. “They tell me you’re 100! I don’t believe it. Here’s hoping you have a fantastic birthday.” Friedman shared a photo of his mother with the signed photo on her birthday. “When I received the photograph from him that my mom is holding, and read the personal inscription, I couldn’t stop smiling. As my daughter said, ‘In the midst of the coronavirus, George Clooney comes through.’” “Thank you, George.” For more information on the Rose Theatre & Starlight Room, follow this link.