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Feb 5, 2019

Asian Markets Closing Report: : Australian banking shares jump while the country's central bank keeps its cash rate unchanged

Saheli Roy Choudhury

A visitor to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) looks at share prices on a big screen in Sydney on October 11, 2018.
Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images
A visitor to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) looks at share prices on a big screen in Sydney on October 11, 2018.
Australian banking stocks gained Tuesday after a special government-appointed inquiry into the country's financial sector did not recommend breaking up any of the banks or interfering in the way they lend money.
Shares of ANZ rose 6.5 percent, National Australia Bank added 3.91 percent, Westpac shares added 7.36 percent and Commonwealth Bank gained 4.69 percent.
The broader benchmark ASX 200 gained 1.95 percent to 6,005.9 as the heavily weighted financial subindex added 4.47 percent.
Still, the so-called Royal Commission recommended measures that would subject regulators to a new oversight body and also overhaul the financial industry's pay to remove conflicts of interest, Reuters reported.
"Despite a year of high drama, evidence of widespread greed, as well as a blistering Interim Report, the Hayne Royal Commission delivered a very pragmatic Final Report," analysts at Citi Research wrote in a note. "It avoided a radical industry overhaul, as well as avoiding widespread civil and criminal prosecutions."
"Of all the possible outcomes for the Major Banks, this is likely to be considered the best possible set of recommendations given the circumstances that the sector could have reasonably expected," the analysts added.

Australia's central bank keeps rates steady

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept its cash rate unchanged at 1.5 percent.
In the bank's monetary policy decision statement, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said that the outlook for global growth remained reasonable but downside risks have increased.
"The trade tensions are affecting global trade and some investment decisions," Lowe said in the statement. "The central scenario is for the Australian economy to grow by around 3 per cent this year and by a little less in 2020 due to slower growth in exports of resources."
Still, Lowe said, the growth outlook in the country is being supported by rising business investment and higher levels of spending on public infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei 225 gave up early gains and declined 0.19 percent to 20,844.45 while the Topix index added 0.1 percent to 1,582.88.
Tuesday's session in Asia followed overnight gains on Wall Street.
In the currency market, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of peers, traded at 95.833, advancing from levels below 95.400 in the previous week.
The Japanese yen, considered a safe-haven asset, traded at 109.86 to the dollar, weakening from levels near 108.5 last week. The Australian dollar, meanwhile, changed hands at $0.7259, rising from an earlier session low of $0.7191.

Source: CNBC

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