Asia markets mostly up

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HONG KONG Asian markets mostly rose Thursday as investors breathed a sigh of relief that US senators have finally passed a gargantuan stimulus package for the world’s top economy after being delayed by wrangling over details. The unprecedented $2 trillion plan — described by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “wartime level of investment” — helped spur a surge across global equities as panicked traders worried about the impact of the coronavirus sweeping the planet. But another advance on Wall Street was blunted Wednesday as it emerged that four Republican senators have baulked at the generous provisions agreed to in the bipartisan deal with the White House. The bill eventually cleared the Senate by an overwhelming majority and will now head to the House of Representatives before going to President Donald Trump for his signature. The monster deal thrashed out between Republicans, Democrats and the White House includes cash payments to American taxpayers and several hundred billion dollars in grants and loans to small businesses and core industries. It also buttresses hospitals desperately in need of medical equipment and expands unemployment benefits. The plan, together with a huge bondbuying programme by the Federal Reserve that effectively prints cash, is part of an unprecedented global response to the outbreak, which has even seen Germany put together a list of measures worth more than $1 trillion. Asian markets mostly rose though major indexes struggled after posting hefty gains this week. Tokyo ended down 4.5 percent after surging almost a fifth over the previous three days, while Hong Kong dipped 0.3 percent and Shanghai eased 0.2 percent. But Sydney jumped more than two percent, Wellington and Mumbai climbed four percent, Manila rallied more than seven percent and Jakarta soared almost 10 percent. There were also healthy gains in Taipei and Bangkok.—AFP