WASHINGTON - Major U.S. stock indexes advanced 3% or more in early Thursday trading, even as markets fell in Asia and Europe.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 blue-chip stocks, the S&P 500 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq index all gained just hours after the U.S. Senate approved a massive $2 trillion rescue package aimed at combating the vast economic damage wrought by the deadly coronavirus.
President Donald Trump has pledged to sign the rescue deal into law as soon as the House of Representatives completes action on it on Friday.
It aims to flood the American economy with billions of dollars in new outlays for businesses, many of which have been virtually brought to a standstill by the coronavirus, as would-be customers self-isolate at home to avoid contact with anyone who might be infected.
A record 3.3 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment compensation last week, with millions more expected to claim jobless pay in the coming weeks.
After sharp stock market losses in recent weeks as fears of the coronavirus mounted, the major U.S. indexes have regained ground this week as it became apparent Congress would adopt the rescue package.
On Wednesday, the Dow rallied for a second straight day, the first time that has occurred since February.
In Asia, the Nikkei index in Tokyo fell more than 4% on Thursday, with the Hang Seng in Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges down less than 1%.
In mid-afternoon trading in Europe, major indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt were trading nearly flat from their closing numbers on Wednesday.
Uncertainty and fear about the virus and its economic toll have rattled markets for weeks, especially in the past month.
Stock prices have fallen sharply, while governments and central banks have rushed to cut benchmark interest rates and inject money into national economies to support businesses and help consumers regain their economic footing.
The $2 trillion aid package to U.S. businesses and most Americans is the largest-ever single government investment in the U.S. economy.
But some analysts are still saying the key word is "caution." They say the markets are moving a lot faster than the fundamental U.S. economy, and no one knows when the coronavirus outbreak will end.