Global stocks fall again despite virus rescue efforts

Financial markets in Europe and the US have continued to fall despite fresh action by the Federal Reserve to support the American economy.

The US central bank said it would buy as much government debt as needed to soothe markets, while providing new financing for households and firms.

Shares in Europe and the US rose on the news, but soon fell back as Congress remained divided over further relief.

Investors are worried about economic damage due to the coronavirus.

In making its announcement, the Federal Reserve said the pandemic was “causing tremendous hardship across the United States and around the world”.

“Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate,” it said.

However, a broader US bailout bill worth almost $2tn being debated in Congress failed to advance for a second time, after Democrats said proposed financial relief for industries such as airlines would not do enough to help workers.

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 fell about 3%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq dipped almost 0.3%. The Dow and S&P have now lost more than three years of gains made since US President Donald Trump became president.

In London, the FTSE 100 closed nearly 3.8% lower, while Germany’s Dax dropped 2% and France’s CAC 40 fell 3.3%. Earlier, Asian stock markets closed sharply lower.