Coronavirus: U.S. futures, Asian shares drop as COVID-19 pandemic deepens

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U.S. futures dropped more than 4 per cent and Australia’s share benchmark initially plunged 8.5 per cent as work on more stimulus for the U.S. economy hit snags in the U.S. Senate.

Shares dropped more than 4 per cent in Hong Kong and 5 per cent in South Korea. The Shanghai Composite index lost 2.6 per cent. However, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index held steady, gaining 0.5 per cent in early trading Monday.

Top-level negotiations between U.S. Congress and the White House continued after the Senate voted against advancing the $2 trillion economic rescue package.

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The Democrats said the bill was tilted too much toward aiding corporations and would not do enough to help individuals and healthcare providers.

By 9 p.m. EST, the S&P 500 future contract was down 4.2 per cent at 2,194.40. The future for the Dow dropped 4.3 per cent to 18,220.00.

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Markets reopened after the weekend to an altered business landscape as lockdowns and closures intended to halt the spread of the new coronavirus expanded to include many cities around the world and the number of people infected surged past 300,000.

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Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 was trading 7.8 per cent lower at 4,443.00 after plunging sharply just after the open.

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