US politicians agree $2tn coronavirus aid package

Dow jumps by over 11% in biggest one-day leap since 1933

US senators and Trump administration officials have reached an agreement on a massive economic stimulus bill to alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the negotiators said on Wednesday.

The Senate will vote on the $2-trillion package later in the day and the House of Representatives is expected to follow suit soon after. "This is a wartime level of investment into our nation," Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech announcing the pact after days of negotiations between Republican and Democratic politicians, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top aides to US president Donald Trump.

US shares soared to their biggest one-day percentage gain since 1933 with the Dow jumping 11 per cent, as news that the package had been agreed filtered out.

All three main US stock indexes rebounded strongly from Monday’s brutal selloff as the coronavirus outbreak forced entire nations to shut down.

"We're going to pass this legislation later today," Mr McConnell said. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called the measure "the largest rescue package in American history," describing it as a "Marshall Plan" for hospitals and medical needs, in a reference to the US-funded programme that helped rebuild Europe after the second World War. "Help is on the way, big help and quick help," Mr Schumer said. The text of the pact was not due to be available until later on Wednesday.

Mr McConnell said the package would rush checks to help Americans pay bills during job layoffs related to the outbreak, expand unemployment insurance and deliver emergency loans to small businesses. It would also “stabilise key national industries” and provide financial help for hospitals and healthcare providers struggling to get equipment for sick patients, he added.

The stimulus package had been expected to boost the economy with a massive infusion of aid, including a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries with loans and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 to millions of US families.

Other provisions are expected to include $350 billion for small-business loans and $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid. Mr Schumer said it also included $100 billion for hospitals and health systems, along with additional money for other health care needs. Another $150 billion would go to help state and local governments fight the outbreak. Mr Schumer said Democrats won strict oversight rules for the hundreds of billions of dollars in loans on offer to US industries. -Reuters