The U.S. Federal Reserve launched an accelerated wave of $37 billion of Treasury security purchases on Friday under the updated market liquidity measures it announced on Thursday to address volatile conditions in the government bond market caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the market agent for the Fed system, said it was targeting five different maturity sectors in a series of purchases on Friday.
“These purchases are intended to address highly unusual disruptions in the market for Treasury securities associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in a statement.
The purchases account for almost half of the $80 billion in planned monthly purchases that the Fed adjusted last week to include a wider range of maturities. That was a notable shift from its previous approach, which focused on short-term Treasury bills and was described as a “technical” program aimed at boosting the level of reserves in the banking system.
In other financial-related virus news, the House of Representatives passed legislation Saturday that would make coronavirus testing free and provide paid sick leave, in an attempt to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the country, according to Reuters.
The multi-billion dollar measure passed the House in a bipartisan 363-40 vote and would expand safety-net programs to help those who could lose their jobs in the weeks to come. The legislation could clear the Senate this week before President Trump signs it into law, marking the second package in what Congress has signaled will be a broad effort to combat a fast-moving crisis.
The package passed the House without a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office due to time constraints, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed the legislation, saying it would “provide immediate relief to American workers and their families.”
The measure would provide free coronavirus testing to anyone whose physician says a test is needed and allow for two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave. It also would provide more funding for state Medicaid programs and extend unemployment benefits to furloughed workers.
As of Sunday afternoon, the coronavirus had killed more than 60 people in the United States and sickened more than 3,200.