Even on Tuesday, the announcement of a trillion dollar stimulus plan caused only a momentary uptick in the index' downward tumble.
Earlier, Asia largely closed higher.
USA stocks sank close to 6% in midday trading Wednesday, part of another worldwide sell-off, and wiped out the big gains and optimism that Washington had sparked the prior day with promises for massive aid for the economy.
On Tuesday, a report showed retail sales weakened in February, when economists expected a gain.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose to 17,011.53, while Hong Kong's benchmark jumped 0.9% to 23,263.73. The S&P 500 index gained almost 6%.
S&P 500 Futures were down 92 points, or 3.69 percent, at their daily down trading limit, while the SPDR S&P 500 ETFs tumbled 5.6 percent.
The big question for investors is when the new coronavirus will slow its spread, and when the economy can begin to recover from shutdowns affecting a growing list of industries by the day, from airlines to restaurants. In a joint action, the Federal Reserve and various global central banks agreed to inject liquidity into the markets while some of them also chose to cut their cash rates (that's the case of the reserve bank of New Zealand) and to ease its monetary policy stances. It was up 531 points, or 2.6%, in early afternoon trading.
The Fed did the same thing during the Great Recession and ended up buying about $350 billion worth of these loans, or about 20 percent of this market. On Wednesday, Ford and General Motors suspended production at their US facilities to help slow the spread of the virus.
All three major United States indices gained more than 2% as investors crawled back to risk assets. Pessimists are preparing for a longer haul. But severe illness including pneumonia can occur, especially in the elderly and people with existing health problems, and recovery could take six weeks in such cases.
The Federal Reserve on Sunday cut its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to near zero and pledged to boost its bond holdings by at least 700 billion dollars amid mounting fears over the COVID-19 outbreak.
The bond market is also operating under strain, and it hasn't been this hard for buyers to find sellers at reasonable prices since the financial crisis of 2008, said Gene Tannuzzo, deputy global head of fixed income at Columbia Threadneedle Investments.
Monday's drop brought the intense selling activity driven by the coronavirus outbreak into its fourth calendar week and wiped out all gains made in 2019, one of the bull market's best annual performances. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration would allow a 90-day, penalty-free deferral of tax payments of up to US$1 million for individuals and US$10 million for companies. The euro gained to $1.1045 from $1.0996.