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Asian Markets Surge on Hopes of U.S. Deal: Live Updates

Asian markets rose strongly in Tuesday morning trading, as investors sought solace in moves in Washington to stabilize America’s stricken economy.

Tokyo stocks led the charge, as the Nikkei 225 index surged 6.7 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was up 6.4 percent. Hong Kong shares rose 4.1 percent. Even stocks in Australia, one of the worst performing markets in the Asia-Pacific region, were 2.2 percent higher.

Futures markets were predicting Wall Street would also open higher.

Other markets signaled improving investor sentiment. Oil prices rose 4 percent. The price of the 10-year Treasury bond fell, sending yields higher.

Markets were reacting to the Federal Reserve’s vow on Monday to buy as much government-backed debt as it needed to keep financial markets functioning. They also appeared to be expressing hope that lawmakers in the United States could bridge their differences and pass a $1.8 trillion economic stabilization package.

China’s mobile carriers have been hit by a rare slump across the industry, a sign of the toll the pandemic has taken on people who can no longer pay for what they once saw as a necessity.

China Mobile, one of the world’s largest cellular providers, lost more than 8 million users throughout January and February, the company reported. China Unicom lost 7.8 million subscribers over the same period, while China Telecom lost 5.6 million subscribers in February, the companies reported.

The relentless user growth over the years has served as an economic barometer in China. The number of mobile users in the country is larger than its entire population, with many residents, especially migrant workers, keeping separate numbers for work and personal use.

The unusual drop in subscribers could indicate the scale to which China’s labor market has been pinched by the outbreak, analysts say.

“People lost their jobs, they have to stay home, they have to be quarantined and have nowhere to go,” said Dickie Wong, executive director of research at Kingston Securities Limited. “They have to cancel their mobile subscription services.”

The Federal Reserve unveiled a vast expansion of its efforts to shore up businesses and keep markets functioning. But the brief boost for Wall Street was soon wiped away as Washington lawmakers failed again to come together on a nearly $2 trillion rescue package.

Across the landscape of American business, grim news abounded Monday as the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the country.

Boeing said it was temporarily idling 70,000 factory workers in Washington State after about 30 employees tested positive for Covid-19. Twitter said its revenue would take a hit as advertising has declined. Nordstrom, its cash diminished, drew down $800 million in credit. And General Electric said it would cut 10 percent of workers in its aviation unit.

The biggest factor again driving markets was Congress, which hit another wall in its attempt to push through a fiscal stimulus package.

Senate Democrats blocked the progress of the nearly $2 trillion government rescue package for a second time as they continued to negotiate for stronger protections for workers and restrictions for bailed-out businesses.

The S&P 500 fell about 3 percent Monday, adding to a 15 percent plunge last week as traders remained cautious about the Fed’s ability to shift the trajectory of an economy that appears to be in free-fall because of the coronavirus crisis.

In the first 10 days of March, some of the commentators on Fox News and Fox Business played down the threat of what would soon be recognized as a pandemic.

Many of the networks’ elderly, pro-Trump viewers responded to the coverage and the president’s public statements by taking the virus less seriously than others.

But one elderly Fox News viewer, a crucial supporter of President Trump, took the threat seriously: The channel’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, who was to celebrate his 89th birthday on March 11.

On March 8, as the virus was spreading, the Murdoch family called off a planned party out of concern for the patriarch’s health, according to a person familiar with the cancellation. There were about 20 people on the guest list.

The canceled party is perhaps the most glaring instance of the gap between the elite, globally minded family owners of Fox — who took the crisis seriously as reports emerged in January in their native Australia — and many of their nominal stars, who treated the virus as a political assault on Mr. Trump, before zigzagging, along with the president, toward a focus on the enormity of the public health risk.

Reporting was contributed by Elaine Yu, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor.

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