Stock Markets in Asia Show Cautious Gains: Live Updates

Asian markets rise modestly as investors look for positive news.

Asian markets rose on Monday as investors looked to signs that the outbreak is peaking in some of the world’s worst-hit places.

Markets in Japan and South Korea were trading more than 2 percent higher by midday, though other indexes in the region rose more modestly. Futures markets were predicting Europe and Wall Street would open higher as well.

The coronavirus shows little sign of letting up globally, but investors took their cue from officials in some places suggesting their outbreaks could peak. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Saturday the outbreak there could reach its worst point in coming days. Other officials in the United States suggested the outbreak was peaking in some places even as it flared in others.

Other markets showed improvement, though investor optimism was restrained. U.S. Treasury bond prices fell in Asian trading, as did futures for gold, another traditional investment safe haven. But the price of oil, which generally rises on good economic news, fell amid a continuing spat over supplies between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

What we know about how the Fed plans to spend its new pot of money.

Congress has earmarked $454 billion for Federal Reserve programs that are meant to keep credit flowing to businesses, states and local governments — money that could help it to fend off a worst-case scenario for the United States economy.

During troubled times, the Fed can lend more or less directly to companies and governments using its emergency authorities. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin must sign off on the programs, and the Treasury Department backstops the programs with a layer of financing meant to absorb losses.

The central bank’s actions so far, taken when the Treasury had far less money to provide backup, offer a rough outline of how it might use the new appropriation.

For individuals: Indirectly. The Fed is rolling out one lending program that gives eligible companies cheap loans in exchange for asset-backed securities — basically, bundles of debt — built on newly issued credit card debt, student loans, auto loans and the like. By creating a big incentive, the program should make loans available and cheaper for consumers.

For small businesses: The main support for small business is coming from the Small Business Administration, but the Fed is also taking bundles of business-related loans as collateral for loans, which could help smaller companies access financing. And the central bank’s Main Street Business Lending Program, so far scantly detailed, should help businesses that are too big to qualify for small business loans but too small to have easy access to capital markets.

For big businesses: The Fed has unveiled several programs to help. One will support a type of short-term funding known as commercial paper, and another will buy company debt secondhand. A third program will buy newly issued debt or make direct loans to corporations.

For local governments: The Fed has unveiled programs to help municipal bond markets by allowing banks to use some types of local debt as collateral to access loans. But officials have stopped short of buying local debt outright, and many lawmakers are urging them to think bigger.

Jeanna Smialek, Stanley Reed, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor contributed to this report.

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