European markets opened higher Wednesday after Asian shares mostly declined, as governments were ramping up aid for economies reeling from the virus outbreak.
France’s CAC 40 gained 2.5 per cent to 4,750.03, while Germany’s DAX rose 2.3 per cent to 10,712.97. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 1.4 per cent to 6,043.49. U.S. shares were set to open lower with Dow futures down 1.0 and S&P 500 futures 1.1 per cent lower.
The Bank of England cut its key interest rate by half a percentage point to 0.25 per cent as an emergency measure in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The central bank said the move would “help support businesses and consumer confidence at a difficult time.”
Countries are shifting into damage-control as infections spread, prompting sweeping controls on travel, closures of schools and cancellations or postponements of sports events and many other public activities.
Australia’s government announced a $1.6 billion virus-fighting package and reportedly plans an additional $6.5 billion in economic stimulus. Japan and Thailand also have announced fresh help for businesses and workers.
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