Stock Markets Signal Lingering Unease: Live Updates

Markets around the world opened broadly lower on Monday, as investors remained nervous about global economic prospects despite stabilization efforts from governments.

London and Paris opened more than 2 percent lower, after a retreat earlier in the day in Asian markets. Futures markets suggested Wall Street would open lower on Monday.

Other markets signaled continuing investor unease, including rising prices for U.S. government bonds and falling prices for oil.

Stocks in Japan ended 1.6 percent lower, after the Japanese government unveiled measures on Saturday to support the world’s third-largest economy. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan pledged to use tax cuts, cash handouts, interest-free loans and other measures to incite growth in a country where the economy was already shrinking at the end of last year.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 1.5 percent. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite fell 0.9 percent. The Kospi index in South Korea was flat.

Bucking the regional trend, stocks in Australia and New Zealand were higher.

In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 index was down 1.7 percent after the initial drop in morning trading. France’s CAC 40 index was down 1.9 percent. Germany’s DAX was 0.7 lower.

Public health officials have known for years the United States lacked enough ventilators, making the nation vulnerable to a pandemic. The government sought to address the issue 13 years ago by building a fleet of inexpensive, portable devices that could be used in a health crisis.

It failed.

Despite a budget and federal contracts, the marketplace ultimately killed the effort. The small, California company hired to design the ventilator was acquired by a multibillion-dollar conglomerate in 2012 as the medical device industry was undergoing rapid consolidation.

But government officials suspected that the acquiring company, Covidien, bought the device maker to prevent the introduction of a cheaper machine that would undercut its existing ventilator business. After the takeover, executives complained the project was insufficiently profitable and wanted to terminate the contract. The government acceded and in 2014 awarded the business to a Dutch company.

According to a spokeswoman at the department of Health and Human Services, the new ventilators are on their way. “We are expecting them soon,” she said.

The Australian government announced a wage subsidy plan on Monday that will pay businesses roughly 70 percent of the median wage to prevent millions of workers from losing their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The payments of up to 1,500 Australian dollars (about $925) every two weeks are open to businesses that receive a significant financial hit because of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian plan differs from the subsidy program in the United Kingdom, where the government is paying up to 80 percent of lost wages, because that program goes to people who are laid off, while the Australian subsidy requires that employers hold on to their workers and pass on the payments.

“When the economy comes back, these businesses will be able to start again and their work force will be ready to go,” Mr. Morrison said.

The government estimated that around 6 million people would be eligible, including part-time and casual workers with at least a year of employment at the same company. Mr. Morrison added that it would bring the government’s total economic support for the economy to 320 billion Australian dollars, or 16.4 percent of gross domestic product — by far the largest stimulus in the country’s history.

China’s vast manufacturing machine has moved into overdrive to supply the country and the world with masks, respirators and other equipment to fight the global coronavirus pandemic. Chinese-made masks have been part of aid packages sent to Europe, developing countries and the United States, as China has tried to improve its public image following a disastrous attempt to play down its virus-related crisis in January.

But even as it encourages production, the Chinese government has also had to step up enforcement efforts to stop defective and uncertified products. That presents a challenge to officials who have to ensure that quality standards are met even as they push factories to make what the world needs.

One man made fake Honeywell N95 respirators at a makeshift factory on a farm. Pharmacies sold ineffective knockoffs of a Chinese version of Clorox. In one Chinese province, the authorities seized more than seven million masks that were substandard, mislabeled or counterfeited.

“Every time when something major happens in society like this virus outbreak, there is a lot of demand and different kinds of companies try to get in,” said Cody Zhang, the chief executive of a start-up seeking certification for its own products, including a disinfecting robot. “It becomes hard at the beginning to figure out which ones are good and which ones are bad.”

Reporting was contributed by Alexandra Stevenson, Tiffany May, Damien Cave, Edmund Lee, Marc Tracy, Nicholas Kulish, Sarah Kliff, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Daniel Victor and Carlos Tejada.

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