Stock rose Friday, rebounding from their worst day in more than 30 years, with gains that were pinned partly to signs of movement in Washington and a pledge by leaders in Germany to spend heavily to support Europe’s largest economy.
The S&P 500 was up about 4 percent in early afternoon trading. In Europe, major indexes surged as much as 10 percent early in the day before losing steam as the week ended.
Financial markets have been nothing if not inconsistent for the past three weeks, plunging and then rising, and then plunging again, as each day brought new measures to contain the outbreak and new worries that the economy, workers and businesses would take a hit as a result of them.
On Thursday, stocks on Wall Street and in Europe plunged in their biggest daily drop since the stock market crashed in 1987, as President Trump’s ban on the entry to the United States from most European countries disappointed investors, who had been waiting for Washington to take stronger steps to bolster the economy.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late Thursday that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had “resolved most of our differences” on a package of economic aid for workers and companies. On Friday, when Ms. Pelosi spoke about the bill, she highlighted that it would fund testing programs to determine the scope of the outbreak but didn’t address whether it had bipartisan support or buy-in from the White House.
And on Friday, Germany’s government said that it would make more than $600 billion available to help companies there, while France pledged to unleash tens of billions of euros to prevent a potential jump in unemployment by paying small and medium-size businesses slammed by the epidemic to keep workers on furlough.
Olaf Scholz, the German finance minister, said that his government could take further steps, including taking stakes in companies, if deemed necessary. “We can’t forget the lessons of the previous financial crisis,” Mr. Scholz told reporters in Berlin.
The volatility in markets this week reflects the increasing concern that governments and central banks may not be able to meaningfully mitigate the economic fallout from the spreading coronavirus.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is buying up a variety of Treasury securities in a bid to keep markets functioning normally after trading in government debt broke down earlier this week — and that effort to help became even more substantial on Friday.
The bank said it would pull forward its planned monthly purchases, which total $80 billion, so that half of them would be done by the end of the day. It would also “bring forward remaining purchases for this monthly calendar and adjust terms of operations as needed to foster smooth Treasury market functioning,” it said in a statement.
The swift action suggested to some investors that there could be more to come, and stock prices rallied on the back of the announcement.
“It’s a signal that they are diagnosing what it going on in the market,” said Julia Coronado, founder of MacroPolicy Perspectives. “It’s a signal that we’re likely to get quantitative easing next week, if not before.”
But just as the Fed was pulling out the stops, President Trump was tweeting about the central bank’s inaction.
“The Federal Reserve must FINALLY lower the Fed Rate to something comparable to their competitor Central Banks,” he wrote. “Jay Powell and group are putting us at a decided economic & physiological disadvantage.”
The Fed was ahead of its global counterparts in reacting to the coronavirus’s economic threat, slashing rates by half a percentage point last week in its first emergency move since the financial crisis. It is widely expected to lower rates again at its meeting next week, and analysts think it could revive more aggressive bond-buying, among other measures meant to cushion the market and real-economy fallout of the global pandemic.
With most finished movies pulled off the release calendar through the end of April, Hollywood studios started to halt their assembly lines on Friday, beginning with Disney.
“While there have been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 on our productions, after considering the current environment and the best interests of our cast and crew, we have made the decision to pause production on some of our live-action films for a short time,” Walt Disney Studios said in a statement.
The affected Disney projects include a new version of “The Little Mermaid,” which was supposed to begin shooting in London next week; “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” a Marvel superhero film; a remake of “Home Alone,” the 1990 comedy; “The Last Duel,” a period epic starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon; and the big-budget “Peter Pan & Wendy.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed on Friday that the United States government would do whatever was necessary to ensure that markets have “almost unlimited” liquidity. He said that the economic relief package being negotiated with Congress was just the beginning of efforts to stimulate the economy in the wake of the coronavirus.
“I think we’re like in the second inning of getting things done,” Mr. Mnuchin said on CNBC.
The Trump administration is considering additional relief measures, including a payroll tax holiday. Mr. Mnuchin also said that the administration is working on exemptions from tariffs imposed by President Trump that are affecting businesses, and that he would be open to waiving restrictions on withdrawals for 401(k) investments so that people can more readily access their savings.
European leaders said they would spend hundreds of billions of euros to prevent the coronavirus outbreak from provoking a deep recession or financial crisis.
Nearly simultaneous announcements by leaders in Berlin, Brussels, Paris and other capitals contrasted with the bickering and finger-pointing that characterized Europe’s response to the financial crisis a decade ago, which left economic scars that have still not fully healed.
Germany dropped its insistence on balanced budgets and said it would offer as much credit as businesses need to stay afloat. France promised to compensate citizens for lost wages. Italy was expected to introduce a multibillion-euro economic aid package. And the European Union said it would allow members to run bigger budget deficits than normally allowed.
But the sums committed by national leaders were for their own countries. It is still an open question how far other European countries will be willing to go to help Italy, which has been hit hardest by the virus but has limited resources to respond because of a weak economy and enormous debt load.
With the United States struggling to meet coronavirus testing demands, China, which appears to have made progress managing the outbreak, has tried to become a resource for other nations.
On Friday, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation said they would donate 500,000 testing kits and one million masks to the United States to help it deal with the pandemic. Alibaba is China’s biggest online retailer, and Mr. Ma is the company’s co-founder and former executive chairman.
“Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” Mr. Ma said in a statement.
Mr. Ma said that the two foundations had, in recent weeks, also donated similar resources to Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.
Berkshire Hathaway said it would not allow shareholders to physically attend its May 2 annual meeting in Omaha, which will be streamed online. All special events around the meeting were canceled.
Airbnb updated its “extenuating circumstances” policy on Friday, making it easier to get a refund. Customers with reservations in the United States, mainland China, South Korea or Italy can cancel bookings through the beginning of April free of charge.
Wynn Resorts is canceling all large entertainment gatherings from this weekend, including buffets, nightclubs and theaters in Las Vegas and Boston. The company said it would continue to pay its full-time employees.
The People’s Bank of China said it would inject $79 billion into its financial system, in a move that indicated Beijing remained concerned about its domestic economy after weeks of virtual shutdown.
The travel and tourism industries could lose up to 50 million jobs as the coronavirus pandemic saps demand for their services, the World Travel and Tourism Council said on Friday. To preserve jobs, the group said governments should remove barriers to travel, cut taxes, provide incentives and support promotional campaigns.
American consumers were slightly less confident in early March compared with a month ago, according to the latest University of Michigan consumer confidence index, reflecting early fears about the spread of coronavirus and its impact on the stock market. The index fell to 95.9 in March, which the survey described as a “modest decline” from 101.0 in February.
Reporting was contributed by Alexandra Stevenson, Jeanna Smialek, Niraj Chokshi, Jim Tankersley, Cao Li, Matt Phillips, Amie Tsang, Carlos Tejada, Brooks Barnes, Mohammed Hadi and Katie Robertson.