Financial Markets

FILE - In this Saturday, March 21, 2020 file photo, a lone pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks past the New York Stock Exchange as coronavirus concerns empty a typically bustling downtown area in New York. Stocks around the world swung lower Monday, March 23 even after the Federal Reserve announced a tidal wave of support for lending markets, going way beyond the “bazooka” it had already unloaded. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

NEW YORK — Stocks fell about 3% on Wall Street Monday as Congress hit another roadblock in talks to inject nearly $2 trillion into the coronavirus-weakened economy. Even an extraordinary flood of support for markets from the Federal Reserve wasn’t enough to lift stocks, as frustration with Washington and the number of virus cases rise.

Another attempt to advance the aid bill failed on Capitol Hill in an afternoon vote. The plan would send checks to U.S. households and offer support for small businesses and the hard-hit travel industry, among other things, but Democrats say it too heavily favors corporations at the expense of public health and workers.

As Congress was locked in stalemate, the number of known infections worldwide jumped past 350,000. After just a few weeks, the United States has more than 35,000 cases and more than 400 deaths.

“The Fed is only important to the extent that it keeps the markets running smoothly,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance. “It’s completely up to the federal government, and I mean Congress and the executive branch, at this point.”

With Monday’s losses, the stock market has lost more than a third of its value since its record last month, as more businesses shut down in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Economists increasingly say a recession seems inevitable, and no one can say for sure how deep it will be or how long it will last.

The S&P 500 lost 67.52 points, or 2.9% to 2,237.40 in another day of sudden swings. It was down as much as 4.9% and as little as 0.2% earlier in the day. Before trading opened, futures for the S&P 500 swung from a loss of 5% to a gain following the Fed’s announcement, a microcosm of the extreme volatility dominating the market in recent weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 582.05 points, or 3% to 18,591.93. The Nasdaq lost only 18.84 points, or 0.3%, to 6,860.67 as technology stocks held up better than the rest of the market.

Markets are likely to remain incredibly volatile as long as the number of new infections accelerates. Until then, investors are looking for both central banks and governments to do their parts to support the economy.

The Fed came through Monday, saying it would buy as many Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities as it takes to stabilize bond markets. It goes way beyond the $700 billion in purchases announced last week, which economists called a “bazooka” of support. It also said it will buy corporate bonds and other investments to help improve trading in markets, which have been thrown into mayhem amid a rush for cash.

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