March 20, 2020 / 7:39 AM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's CBA defers home, small business loan repayments for up to 6 months

(Adds details on notes issue, background)

March 20 (Reuters) - Commonwealth Bank of Australia on Friday joined two of its Big Four peers in deferring repayment of home loans for up to six months, as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

CBA also announced additional support measures for small businesses and said in a statement it will automatically enrol 76,000 small businesses into loan deferral arrangements for up to six months.

CBA, Australia’s biggest lender, had on Thursday said it would cut interest rates for small business and household customers, after the central bank’s second rate cut this month to reduce the economic fallout from the virus outbreak.

Since then, Australia and New Zealand Banking and National Australia Bank have deferred home loan repayments for six months, while Westpac Banking has cut interest rates.

These customer support packages come after the nation’s prudential regulator loosened capital requirements to enable them to lend more freely, as the government scrambles to prevent the country’s first recession in nearly three decades.

Australia’s central bank has also pitched in with relief measures. On Friday, it bought A$5 billion ($2.96 billion) in local government bonds in the first round of its unlimited quantitative easing programme.

In a separate statement, CBA said it had issued A$280 million worth of subordinated notes, but assured markets that this would not impact its financial position. ($1 = 1.6883 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Kim Coghill)

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