US corporate earnings also lifted equities, analysts said, though overall sentiment remained fragile as the pandemic cut a destructive path through the world economy. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan bounced from two-week lows to be up 0.5 percent at 460.43 points. Australian S&P/ASX added 0.4 percent, Chinese shares opened firm with the blue-chip index up 0.3percent. Japan’s Nikkei climbed 0.8 percent.
The gains followed a strong overnight lead from Wall Street with the Dow up 2 percent, S&P 500 adding 2.3 percent and Nasdaq rising 2.8 percent.
All 11 S&P 500 sector indexes climbed as the US Senate unanimously approved the new relief package, adding to trillions of dollars in stimulus that has helped Wall Street rebound from its March lows.
The House of Representatives is expected on Thursday to clear the relief, which would be the fourth coronavirus measure passed by Congress, and would boost the overall federal financial response to almost $3 trillion.
Stock markets may have bottomed out after the impressive bounce since a rout last month, analysts said.
5.40am update: Record US jobless claims wipe out post-Great Recession employment gains
A record 26 million Americans likely sought unemployment benefits over the last five weeks, confirming that all the jobs created during the longest employment boom in US history were wiped out in about a month as the novel coronavirus savages the economy.
Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department will add to a growing pile of increasingly bleak economic data. It will come amid rising protests against nationwide lockdowns to control the spread of COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by the virus.
President Donald Trump, who is seeking a second term in the White House in November’s general election, has been anxious to restart the paralyzed economy. Trump on Wednesday applauded steps taken by a handful of Republican-led states to begin reopening their economies, despite warnings from health experts of a potential new surge in infections.
“The US economy is hemorrhaging jobs at a pace and scale never before recorded,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco. “It compares to a natural disaster on a national scale.”