Stocks swing as Trump hits stimulus hope but calls for handouts

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HONG KONG – Asian markets fluctuated on Wednesday after Donald Trump called off talks on a much-needed US stimulus before urging lawmakers to agree on handouts for struggling Americans and help for small businesses.

The US president halted discussions just as lawmakers appeared to be making progress after months of haggling, sparking a sell-off on Wall Street which had been rallying on hopes for a breakthrough to help the beleaguered economy.

Just hours earlier, Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell had warned that failure to reach an agreement would cause “unnecessary hardship” for Americans, while analysts said it would have a major impact on the crucial consumer sector that is the major driver of growth.

The president accused Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi of negotiating in bad faith and said he had asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to instead focus on confirming his appointed judge to an opening on the Supreme Court.

“Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 Trillion Dollars to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19,” he tweeted, citing an incorrect figure for the Democrats’ latest proposal.

“We made a very generous offer of $1.6 Trillion Dollars and, as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith. I am rejecting their request.”

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