Stocks gain but back off highs on Sanders threat

BTC  USD by TradingView

BTC USD by TradingView

Merchants work on the ground of the New York Inventory Trade (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 20, 2020.

Stocks grew jittery Wednesday as investors' initial optimism about an estimated $2 trillion US stimulus package waned amid renewed concerns about the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.45% to 7,384.30, giving up its earlier gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared more than 11% on Tuesday in its biggest single-day percentage gain since 1933 and the benchmark S&P 500 jumped 9.4% - its tenth best day on record out of 24,067 trading sessions since a daily data series started in 1927.

But the market has also had a couple days within the last few weeks that packed entire years' worth of losses, including two days down 10.4 per cent. The big gains mean the stock market is now down by about a quarter from its record high set last month after earlier being down by more than a third.

There were signs that a stimulus deal in Congress was getting closer.

The breakthrough on the sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid American workers, businesses and a health care system strained by the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak was an expected but welcome boost to sentiment. Tokyo's Nikkei closed at 19,546.63, while the Hang Seng rose 3.8% to 23,527.19. But $250 billion has been set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, while $350 billion will be used for small business loans and $250 billion will fund unemployment insurance benefits.

Any action by the U.S. government would follow aggressive efforts by the Federal Reserve, including its pledge to buy as much government debt as needed to soothe markets, while also lending directly to businesses.

Ultimately, investors say they need to see the number of new infections peak before markets can find a floor.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell four basis points 0.81 per cent. "If there's not too much damage done to the workforce, to the businesses during the shutdown period, however long that may be, then we could see a fairly quick rebound", Bernanke told CNBC's "Squawk Box". The S&P 500 has not had a back-to-back gain since the sell-off began on February 20, a day after the index set its record. US crude futures fell 21 cents, or 0.9%, to $23.80 a barrel.

With fears of a global recession and corporate defaults running high, and expectations of a continued surge in coronavirus cases in the United States, many investors remained reluctant to call an end to Wall Street's recent, staggering selloff.

That uncertainty has led to wild swings in the stock market over the last month. The company said it will follow a similar playbook in other countries as the outbreak has spread around the world.

Brent crude was down 17 cents, or 0.6%, to $26.98 a barrel.

In currency trading, the USA dollar was at 111.00 Japanese yen, down from 111.22 yen late Tuesday.

The euro rose 0.29% at $1.0818 while the pound sterling gained 0.4% at $1.1804.

COVID-19 symptoms may include altered senses of smell, taste
Spain registers more than 700 deaths from coronavirus