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U.S. Stocks Jump As White House Plans $1 Trillion Stimulus

18 hours ago
Originally published on March 17, 2020 4:07 pm

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged Tuesday, a day after its stunning record plunge, as the White House and Federal Reserve unveiled massive stimulus measures to help the economy deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow closed up 1,049 points, or 5.2%. The S&P 500 index gained nearly 6%.

The stock market climbed as the Trump administration proposed an emergency stimulus package. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration is asking Congress to approve a $1 trillion relief plan that will include direct checks to Americans, loans and help for small businesses.

"It's a big number," he said. "This is a very unique situation in this economy."

In addition, the Federal Reserve announced a special lending program "to support the flow of credit to households and businesses." The loans will be backed by $10 billion from the U.S. Treasury.

"The economic disruption and uncertainty created by COVID-19 has created challenges for the commercial paper market, constraining access to short-term credit for American businesses," Mnuchin said. "By providing short-term credit, the [lending program] will help American businesses manage their finances through this challenging period."

Mnuchin said the administration was pushing to send cash payments to Americans in the next two weeks. And he said taxpayers who owe the Internal Revenue Service money would be given up to 90 days extra time to pay without penalties or interest.

The stimulus measure — which would be the biggest since the 2008 financial crisis — was expected to include $50 billion to help the U.S. airline industry, which has been battered by travel restrictions and cancellations.

The Fed has also been slashing borrowing costs — moving a key interest rate to near zero on Sunday — and pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the banking system to keep credit flowing.

Markets have been gyrating for weeks on increasing fears over the pandemic.

From restaurants to airlines, employers have been crushed by a sudden halt in their business as governments order tough measures to keep people apart in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. A recession is looking more likely by the day.

On Monday, the Dow fell about 13% — its biggest drop since the Black Monday crash of October 1987. The single-day loss of 2,997 points was the most in the Dow's history.

Markets in Asia and Europe were mixed.

NPR's Scott Horsley contributed to this report.

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