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Stock Markets in Asia Fall on U.S. Stalemate: Live Updates

Financial markets look set for another troubled week, as most of the world’s major stock markets tumbled on Monday and investors looked for safe places to park their money.

Tokyo shares ended 2 percent higher on Monday, but stocks in the rest of the world were broadly and heavily lower. Markets in London, Paris and Frankfurt opened more than 4 percent lower, following a tumble in Asia.

Futures markets signaled that Wall Street would open sharply lower.

Investors were reacting in part to a political stalemate in the United States. Senate Democrats on Sunday blocked action on an emerging deal to prop up the American economy, halting the progress of a nearly $2 trillion government rescue package. They contended that the legislation failed to adequately protect workers or impose strict enough restrictions on bailed-out businesses.

Investors signaled their skittishness by putting money in places generally considered safe. The price of the 10-year Treasury bond rose, sending yields lower. Gold futures also rose. Oil prices fell, suggesting investors see little demand for fuel.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australian stocks led the tumble with a 5.6 percent drop. In South Korea, the Kospi index fell 5.3 percent. Hong Kong shares were down 4.9 percent late in the trading day. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 3.1 percent.

In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 opened down 4.7 percent. France’s CAC 40 index was down 4 percent, and Germany’s DAX fell 4.3 percent in early trading.

SoftBank on Monday announced that it will sell down $41 billion in assets as it seeks to buy up its own shares, which have dropped precipitously in the last month amid investor concerns about the coronavirus’s impact on its holdings in top tech companies like Uber.

SoftBank, which controls a $100 billion tech investment fund, has bet heavily on tech companies — many offering services such as ride-sharing and hotel booking — that have seen their share prices plummet as consumers stay home amid the pandemic.

In a statement on Monday, SoftBank said it would use 2 trillion yen from the sale of its assets to purchase its own shares. The amount is on top of a 500 billion yen buyback announced earlier this month.

Since mid-February, the company’s share price have dropped by more than 50 percent.

India’s stock market plunged about 10 percent at the market’s open on Monday, as investors reacted to the widespread coronavirus lockdowns ordered in many states and cities over the weekend.

The sudden fall triggered circuit breakers that imposed a temporary halt on trading. When trading resumed, major indexes continued falling, and by late morning, they were down about 11 percent.

The country’s currency, the rupee, also fell to an all-time low, with $1 worth about 76 rupees, compared to about 72 rupees in early January.

While India has lagged much of the world in the known spread of coronavirus infections, the number of official cases has begun rising sharply in the last few days, especially in densely populated urban areas like Mumbai, the country’s financial capital. On Monday morning, the government said there were 415 confirmed cases.

Commerce in India has ground to a near halt over the past few days. Over the weekend, the country stopped all long-distance passenger train service, and many cities, including Mumbai and the national capital of New Delhi, have shut down all local public transportation. Most businesses have been ordered to close until at least the end of the month.

The American economy is facing a plunge into uncharted waters.

Economists say there is little doubt that the nation is headed into a recession. But it is harder to foresee the bottom, or predict how long it will take to climb back. The abruptness of the descent — and the near-lockdown of major cities — is unheard-of in advanced economies, more akin to wartime privation than to the downturn that accompanied the financial crisis more than a decade ago, or even the Great Depression.

Smaller companies will be hit harder than large ones because they have limited access to credit and less cash in the bank; a wide swath will be unable to survive. And unemployment could hit 10 percent in April, a level unseen since the nadir of the last recession, with the possibility of even higher jobless rates in the following months

A strong rebound — what economists call a V-shaped recovery, as opposed to a U-shaped one, with an extended low — would require a profound resurgence in confidence. But few see that on the horizon.

  • Drive-through testing sites were opened Sunday in Walmart parking lots in the Chicago area, part of the retailer’s collaboration with federal health officials, for health care workers and emergency personnel.

  • In a letter to congressional leadership on Saturday, the chief executives of the major airlines, UPS and FedEx said that they would postpone mass layoffs and stock buybacks and dividends if a bailout large enough is passed.

Reporting was contributed by Carlos Tejada, Ben Dooley, Vindu Goel and Daniel Victor.

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