Economy 3 MIN READ

Easing banking crisis fears give Australia shares modest lift

March 27, 2023By Reuters

Australian shares eked out modest gains on Monday, as investors assessed moves made by global authorities to rein in lingering concerns over a turmoil in the global banking system, while a deal for troubled Silicon Valley Bank brought in some relief.

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 0.1% higher at 6,962.0, after gaining as much as 0.5% earlier in the session.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) confirmed on Monday First Citizens BancShares Inc will acquire all of Silicon Valley Bank’s deposits and loans from the regulator, bringing some respite to markets which have been roiled by worries of a credit crunch and wider banking crisis.

In Australia this week, investor focus would be on retail sales data and monthly inflation indicator for February- data sets likely to help shape expectations for the Reserve Bank of Australia’s policy meeting on April 4.

“This week attention will again be on the banking sector as markets continue to press for banking pressure points and…on the spillover effects of the banking crisis on credit flow, growth, inflation, and the path of central bank policy,” IG analyst Tony Sycamore said.

In Sydney, financials pared gains to finish 0.2% lower, after rising 0.8% earlier in the session, with two of the “Big Four” banks adding between 0.1% and 0.7%.

Meanwhile, the country’s lower house passed an emissions reduction plan with curbs on some new gas and coal investments and a cap on total greenhouse gas emissions from Australia’s biggest polluters.

Energy firms skidded 2.3% and were the only major laggards on the benchmark, with sector majors Woodside and Santos down 3.4% and 1.6%, respectively.

“Investors are seeing the updated legislation as negative- pointing to the fear that the sector is gonna take a hit in terms of gas investments and that’s why we’re seeing a weakness across the energy sector today,” said Josh Gilbert, market analyst at eToro.

The country’s top fuel supplier Ampol was among the top losers on the benchmark, falling up to 2.3% after it flagged a hit to gasoline production at its refinery in Queensland.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.3% to 11,612.9 points.

(Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)

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