March 25, 2020 / 6:35 AM / 8 days ago

REFILE-Australia, NZ shares rise after U.S. govt agrees to massive stimulus package

(Corrects analyst’s name to “Jason Teh” from “Jason The” in paragraph 5)

* Benchmark sees best day in more than a week

* Big Four banks gain between 9%-12%

* Airline carrier Qantas secures $628 mln against aircraft fleet

* NZ PM Ardern declares national emergency

March 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares jumped 5% on Wednesday, ending just short of the 5,000 mark, fuelled by a bout of last-minute buying after the U.S. 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% higher but clocked a gain of over 2% 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% higher at 4,998.10 points, its biggest percentage gain in more than a week.

U.S. senators and President Donald Trump’s administration officials reached an agreement on a $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 Teh, chief investment officer at Vertium Asset Management in Sydney.

“It’s good the authorities are going to throw everything at it. But if the virus is not controlled in the U.S, then they’re going to have to throw another trillion dollars.”

In Australia, the financials sub-index rose 8.7%, helped by gains in the Australia’s top lenders.

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

Qantas Airways finished as the second-biggest gainer in the index, adding more than 26% on securing A$1.05 billion ($628.22 million) of funding against its aircraft fleet.

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

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index pared initial gains to end 1.7% higher at 9,264.38 after a national emergency was declared in the country. The index had risen 6.7% 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% on being classed as an essential business, while NZ-shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group advanced 10.9%. ($1 = 1.6714 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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