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Australia, NZ: Shares rise after US govt agrees to massive stimulus package

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Australian shares jumped 5 per cent on Wednesday, ending just short of the 5,000 mark, fuelled by a bout of last-minute buying after the US government agreed on a massive stimulus package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares jumped 5 per cent on Wednesday, ending just short of the 5,000 mark, fuelled by a bout of last-minute buying after the US government agreed on a massive stimulus package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P/ASX 200 index unofficially ended the session about 3.2 per cent higher but clocked a gain of over 2 per cent in the 10 minutes after market close, during which time brokers finalise trades and can change or cancel their orders.

News on the deal came in around that time, helping the index finish 5.5 per cent higher at 4,998.10 points, its biggest percentage gain in more than a week.

US senators and President Donald Trump's administration officials reached an agreement on a US$2 trillion package to alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

"No doubt it's a positive development that they've agreed, because if they can't agree, things will turn down further. But once it is approved the question is how it is implemented," said Jason The, chief investment officer at Vertium Asset Management in Sydney.

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"It's good the authorities are going to throw everything at it. But if the virus is not controlled in the US, then they're going to have to throw another trillion dollars."

In Australia, the financials sub-index rose 8.7 per cent, helped by gains in the Australia's top lenders.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia firmed 9.5 per cent, while smaller peers Westpac Banking Corp and National Australia Bank gained between 9.2 per cent and 9.7 per cent.

Qantas Airways finished as the second-biggest gainer in the index, adding more than 26 per cent on securing A$1.05 billion (S$915.5 million) of funding against its aircraft fleet.

Mining sector put on 7.7 per cent, with global iron miners BHP Group jumping 10.2 per cent and Rio Tinto adding about 5.4 per cent.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index pared initial gains to end 1.7 per cent higher at 9,264.38 after a national emergency was declared in the country. The index had risen 6.7 per cent earlier.

The number of coronavirus cases in New Zealand rose to 205 and the country will be in a complete lockdown starting midnight, with all non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut for a month.

Electricity generator Contact Energy rose 3.5 per cent on being classed as an essential business, while NZ-shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group advanced 10.9 per cent. 

REUTERS

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