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Leaders agree on largest stimulus in US history

By Ramla Soni

The bill would rush financial assistance to Americans through direct payments to households and enhanced unemployment insurance

The White House and Senate leaders have agreed on a $2 trillion relief bill to help rescue the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. It is said to be the largest rescue package in American history.

“In effect, this is a war-time level of investment into our nation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

He promised the bill would rush financial assistance to Americans through direct cheques to households, enhanced unemployment insurance, hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency loans to small businesses, and more resources for hospitals and medical equipment.

The Senate had yet to release the final terms of the deal but an earlier draft seen yesterday would provide cash payments of up to $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples and $500 per child. They would be reduced if an individual makes more than $75,000 or a couple makes more than $150,000.

President Donald Trump’s businesses are barred from getting loans or investments under the deal.

The draft language also stipulated a $350 billion fund for small businesses to mitigate layoffs and support payroll.

The deal will also allocate $150 billion to states and localities battling the pandemic and starved of now-delayed tax revenue.

McConnell said the Senate will officially vote and pass the legislation later today.

Trump voiced optimism about the package, stating: “We are working to pass the biggest and boldest financial relief package in American history.”

Stocks were positive after news of the deal. The FTSE 100 opened around 1.5 per cent higher and the Europe-wide Stoxx 600 rose 1.8 per cent.

The moves followed a surge in Asia, with Japan’s Topix closing up 6.9 per cent and South Korea’s Kospi finishing the day 5.5 per cent higher. China’s CSI 300 was up 2.7 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 3.1 per cent higher in late afternoon trading.

US shares also rose as lawmakers signalled a deal was close on Tuesday, with the benchmark S&P 500 closing up 9.4 per cent and the Nasdaq finishing the day 8.1 per cent higher.

FURTHER READING: US government unveils $1 trillion stimulus package including direct payments to Americans

FURTHER READING: ‘Digital dollar’ proposals scrubbed from Covid-19 relief bill

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