Australia share benchmark, US futures sink as crisis deepens

BANGKOK (AP) — U.S. futures dropped more than 4% and Australia's share benchmark initially plunged 8.5% as work on more stimulus for the U.S. economy hit snags in the U.S. Senate.

Shares dropped more than 4% in Hong Kong and South Korea. However, Japan's Nikkei 225 index held steady, gaining 0.8% in early trading Monday.

Top-level negotiations between U.S. Congress and the White House continued after the Senate voted against advancing the $2 trillion economic rescue package.

The Democrats said the bill was tilted too much toward aiding corporations and would not do enough to help individuals and healthcare providers.

Markets reopened to an altered business landscape as lockdowns and closures intended to halt the spread of the new coronavirus expanded to include many cities around the world and the number of people infected surged past 300,000.

Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 was trading 7.8% lower at 4,443.00 after plunging sharply just after the open. South Korea's Kospi lost 4.4% to 1,497.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index also lost 4.4%, to 21,809.38.

The Nikkei was at 16,6674.65.