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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.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index was 2.6 percent higher by midday. South Korea’s Kospi index rose 2.4 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 1.2 percent. Taiwan’s Taiex was up 0.9 percent.

OPEC’s meeting is delayed.

A meeting planned for Monday between officials of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other oil producers, which had buoyed hopes for a deal to end the turmoil in energy markets, has been put off, according to two OPEC delegates.

The news comes as lingering tensions have resurfaced between Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, and Russia over who is to blame for the recent collapse in oil prices. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin partly blamed Saudi Arabia for the price drop; the Saudi ministers of foreign affairs and energy then responded angrily, blaming Russia.

News of the meeting’s delay may roil the markets when trading resumes on Monday. Expectations for a meeting had added to hopes that OPEC and Russia would agree on production trims.

The OPEC delegates indicated that further talks would be required before moving ahead with a meeting, which could be rescheduled for later in the week. Saudi Arabia had called for the meeting last Thursday, responding to pressure from President Trump.

In early March, Russia declined to go along with a Saudi-led OPEC proposal to further trim production to deal with the plummeting demand for oil because of the coronavirus epidemic, leading the Saudis to walk away from a three-year agreement with Moscow on production trims.

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, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor contributed to this report.

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