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Stocks' roller coaster ride looks likely to continue, with a big drop

U.S. futures prices were sharply lower overnight, major Asian stock markets fell back after early gains and European shares were down as well, suggesting a rough day ahead on Wall Street. Share prices there soared Tuesday in response to President Trump's promise of measures to help the U.S. economy through the coronavirus outbreak.

Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 821 points, or almost 4%. S&P 500 futures also fell almost 4%. Both hit their trading limits on the down side, according to the Reuters news service.

Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong all advanced Wednesday but then lost ground. Smaller Asian markets also were mostly lower and Australia's main index tumbled 6.4%.

European equities plummeted. London and Frankfurt down 3.5% in early trading while Paris and Milan lost about 3%, Reuters said.

The White House proposal could approach $1 trillion to ward off the pressure of business closures that are part of efforts to contain the virus. The Federal Reserve Board announced more measures to keep financial markets operating.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose by an unusually wide daily margin of 6% Tuesday, regaining just under half the previous day's history-making loss. The S&P was still 25.3% from the record it set last month.

The Dow jumped 1,049 points, or 5.2%, to end Tuesday's session at 21,237. A day earlier, the Dow lost nearly 3,000 after Mr. Trump said a recession may be on the way.

Professional investors expect more big daily swings in both directions until the spreading virus is brought under control.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Mr. Trump wants to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks to help support them while more parts of the economy come closer to shutting down. The proposal would include $250 billion for small businesses and $50 billion for airlines.

While that would be a good start, investors need to see the number of infections slow before markets can find a bottom, analysts said. The number of new cases reported in China, where the virus emerged in December, is declining but infections in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are increasing.

The virus has spread so quickly that its effects haven't shown up in much U.S. economic data yet.

On Tuesday, a report showed retail sales weakened in February, when economists expected a gain. A separate report a day earlier showed manufacturing in New York state contracting.

"The global recession is here and now," S&P Global economists wrote in a report Tuesday.

On energy markets, U.S. benchmark crude lost 27 cents to $26.68 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.75 to $26.95 on Tuesday.

Brent crude, the international standard, gained 6 cents to $28.79 per barrel.

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