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Stocks fall as coronavirus stimulus packages fail to calm investors

Edmund Heaphy
·Finance and news reporter
·3-min read
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak attend a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, Britain March 17, 2020. Matt Dunham/Pool via REUTERS
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces new stimulus measures on Tuesday. (Matt Dunham/pool via Reuters)

Stocks fell across the world on Wednesday even after governments in the UK, France, Spain, and the United States announced a series of new stimulus measures designed to curb the economic impact of the spiralling coronavirus pandemic.

Stocks in the US, which rose on Tuesday, suffered broad declines. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was down by more than 4.7%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) fell by 5.5%, while shares on the Nasdaq (^IXIC) were down by around 4%.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) fell by more than 2.7% on Wednesday, while London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) declined by more than 3.3%, erasing all of Tuesday’s gains.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) fell by around 3.9% and France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was around 4.2% in the red.

Read more: UK releases 'unprecedented' financial measures worth 15% of GDP

Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey on Wednesday suggested that the central bank was considering printing money and giving it directly to UK households.

Bailey also said that there was no limit on the amount of commercial paper that the bank could snap up as part of a new facilitythat aims to help businesses across a range of sectors to pay wages and suppliers.

His comments came after UK chancellor Rishi Runak on Tuesday announced £330bn ($390bn) in state-backed loans to coronavirus-hit businesses, equivalent to 15% of GDP.

Sunak also pledged a further £20bn in stimulus measures, including the suspension of business rates for swathes of firms.

The announcement came after a series of measures were announced by the French and Spanish governments.

Later on Tuesday, the Trump administration announced a stimulus package of measures — pending congressional approval — that could end up amounting to $1tn (£800bn), alongside $300bn in deferred tax payments.

“Faced with the prospect of meeting the costs of massive welfare bills, and the prospect of multiple business failures, politicians from Europe, the UK and the US announced a series of measures designed to help steer their respective economies through the uncharted waters of an economic shock of a yet unspecified magnitude,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Read more: Morrisons promises staff coronavirus pay and expands Amazon home delivery

“The widespread and whole-scale economic shutdowns being announced in the last few days have the potential to plunge millions of people into huge financial difficulties as governments take high stakes steps to beat back the invisible enemy of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hewson said.

The decline in US and European stocks followed a weak trading session in Asia.

China’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) fell by 1.8% on Wednesday, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) was down more than 4.1% in Hong Kong at market close.

Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) fell by more than 1.6%. The KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea closed almost 4.9% in the red.