Asian markets extend gains


HONG KONG Asian equities rallied again and the dollar extended losses Friday, with traders buoyed by government and central bank pledges to prop up the global economy as the coronavirus sends countries into lockdown. Despite the painful toll the disease is inflicting on lives and economies, markets are on course to end the week with healthy gains following a barrage of stimulus and monetary easing. While the number of people contracting COVID-19 continues to escalate—the US now has more cases than China and Italy—the support measures, which the G20 said amounted to $5 trillion, have given traders hope that the expected recession will be sharp but short. Even news that a record 3.3 million Americans claimed unemployment for the first time last week—smashing the previous all-time high of 695,000 set in 1982—was unable to derail a rally in New York with the Dow and S&P 500 up more than six percent. The S&P 500 has now recorded its quickest three-day advance in nine decades, according to Bloomberg News. And Dan Skelly at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management said stocks, which have been clobbered in recent weeks, were showing signs of forming a bottom. “While we do believe this will be possibly the sharpest recession in history, it may also be the shortest, so there is room to be optimistic for a second-half rebound,” he told Bloomberg TV. —AFP