Asian stocks rise as sentiment improves.

Asian stocks rose moderately Wednesday on signs that the global economy is slowly getting back to its feet after being idled by the coronavirus outbreak.

Japanese stocks inched lower, but the rest of the region was higher. Futures markets were predicting strong openings for Wall Street and Europe.

Major corporations — including Boeing, Airbus, Volkswagen, General Electric and Facebook — were scheduled to report their financial results for the first three months of the year. U.S. officials were also expected to unveil economic growth figures, while the Federal Reserve was expected to release a statement about the health of the American economy later in the day.

All of that could affect investor sentiment, which has been cheered in recent days by hints that the United States and other countries will slowly try to resume business as usual. Underscoring the optimism, prices for U.S. Treasury bonds — long considered a safe place to park money — fell in muted Asian trading on Wednesday.

In stock markets, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent, while the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China rose 0.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.9 percent.

Simon Property Group, the biggest operator of shopping malls in the United States, plans to reopen 49 properties between Friday and Monday, according to documents that were shared with retailers on this week and obtained by The New York Times. Most of the properties listed are in Texas, Indiana, Georgia and Missouri.

The malls will have shorter hours to allow for “enhanced sanitizing and disinfecting,” the company said in the documents, which were first reported by CNBC. Simon Property outlined safety protocols for employees, contractors and vendors, including required temperature screenings before work, protective face masks and social distancing.

Some of the guidelines suggest a somewhat dystopian mall experience. Security officers and employees will “actively remind and encourage shoppers” to maintain a proper distance from other shoppers and employees and to refrain from shopping in groups. Food court seating will be altered and spaced to encourage social distancing. Play areas and drinking fountains will be closed, while in restrooms, every other sink and urinal will be taped off.

The company said it would also provide masks, free temperature testing and sanitizing wipe packets to shoppers upon request. Simon Property did not return requests for comment.

Axios says it will return a small-business loan.

The media website Axios said on Tuesday night that it would return a $4.8 million loan it had received from the Small Business Administration, adding that it was near a deal to raise capital through other means.

Axios received the loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, a $342 billion fund created to help small American businesses cover payroll, rent and other expenses. The program, part of a vast economic rescue plan signed by President Trump in March, has been riddled with problems.

Several large companies, including AutoNation, Shake Shack and the owner of Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses, have also disclosed that they were returning money they had received through the program.

As the coronavirus outbreak ebbs in China, the country’s companies and officials have made big strides in restarting its economy. Its factories, brought to a standstill when the coronavirus outbreak swept through the country in January, are humming again, and even the air pollution is coming back.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

Reporting was contributed by Ben Dooley, Keith Bradsher, Kate Conger, Mike Isaac, Neal E. Boudette, Michael Corkery, Sapna Maheshwari, Gregory Schmidt, Carlos Tejada and Mike Ives.

Source Article