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Australia: Shares climb nearly 6% as RBA injects extra cash, promises more measures

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Australian shares jumped nearly 6 per cent on Tuesday, recouping some of the ground lost in their biggest rout since 1987 in the previous session, as the central bank pumped extra cash into the financial system in a ramped-up bid to stabilise battered markets and confidence.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares jumped nearly 6 per cent on Tuesday, recouping some of the ground lost in their biggest rout since 1987 in the previous session, as the central bank pumped extra cash into the financial system in a ramped-up bid to stabilise battered markets and confidence.

The S&P/ASX 200 index made big gains towards the end of the session, settling 5.8 per cent higher at 5,293.40 in its biggest rise since October 2008 after Monday's near 10 per cent dive.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) pumped A$8.8 billion ($5.40 billion) into the system, well above its original intention of A$2.06 billion, and promised to announce a new package of stimulus measures on Thursday, as the coronavirus pandemic threatened to drain liquidity and push up borrowing costs.

Analysts assume the central bank will also lower its cash rate to 0.25 per cent.

"The RBA injection is the main reason why there is some topside recovery today," said Nick Twidale, director and co-founder at brokerage X-chainge.

Leading the recovery, the mining sector soared 10.5 per cent in its biggest gain since late November 2008. BHP Group strengthened nearly 12 per cent, while peer Rio Tinto advanced 6.9 per cent to a one-week high.

Financial stocks added 9.2 per cent, with all the "Big Four" lenders closing in positive territory.

"Australian banks can absorb the increase in credit losses and disruption to funding markets due to the Covid-19 outbreak without posing any immediate or significant risks to the banks' creditworthiness," S&P Global analysts said in a note.

Major supermarket retailer Woolworths Group climbed nearly 10 per cent, its best since late October 1997, while rival Coles Group closed 8.4 per cent higher after brokerage UBS upgraded the stock.

UBS said it saw all Australian supermarket chains making stronger profits in the second half of the year following a coronavirus-led panic buying in recent weeks.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index reversed earlier gains to close 0.5 per cent lower at 9,434.74.

The government said it would pump NZ$12.1 billion (S$10.39 billion) into the economy to slow a contraction expected from the coronavirus outbreak.

Auckland International Airport ended 2.3 per cent weaker, while Vista Group closed down 11 per cent.

REUTERS