March 24, 2020 / 2:07 AM / 5 days ago

CORRECTED-Australian shares climb on Fed support; NZ jumps

(Corrects currency in first bullet to $4 bln from A$4 bln)

* RBA injects $4 bln liquidity into banking system

* Gold miners boosted by surge in bullion prices

* SKY Network tops NZX gainers

By Pranav A K

March 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday, regaining some of the sharp losses from the previous session, as a pledge by the U.S. Federal Reserve to spend whatever it took to stabilise the financial system lifted sentiment even though the boost may be short-lived.

The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 2.6%, or 116.7 points, to 4,657.7 by 0049 GMT. It dropped 5.6% on Monday to its lowest close in more than seven years.

In its latest drastic step, the Fed said it would backstop an unprecedented range of credit for households, small and major firms to offset the disruptions caused by the virus. Purchases of U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed securities will also be expanded as much as needed.

“The Fed came out with unlimited quantitative easing and that is a positive in these markets. So, we are bouncing... but not sure that will hold,” said Mathan Somasundaram, a market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

The bounce comes as the World Health Organization said the coronavirus outbreak was accelerating with more than 300,000 cases now recorded and infections reported from nearly every country.

Meanwhile, Australians started living under strict new lockdown rules from Monday as virus cases topped 1,600 and there were clear signs of economic and social stress.

“As the (global) market crashed over the last month, there will be relief bounces, but we stay cautious, continuing to advise to use these to reduce into, and keep a defensive allocation,” JP Morgan analysts said in a note.

The ‘Big Four’ banks gained between 3.3% and 4.4% as the country’s central bank continued to flood the financial system with liquidity.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) pumped A$6.88 billion ($4.03 billion) into the financial system on Tuesday, well above its original intention.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia climbed the most among the four.

The gold index jumped 11.6% on a surge in bullion prices, with Saracen Mineral Holdings rising 19.5% in its best intraday gain in more than four years.

Tech stocks rose nearly 6%. WiseTech Global and Afterpay Ltd climbed 10.1% and 13.7%, respectively.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 4%, or 339.4 points, to 8,838.1.

Television broadcaster SKY Network Television Ltd was the top gainer on the benchmark with a rise of 21.1%, while retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare was on track for its best day ever.

Meanwhile, the country confirmed 40 new cases of coronavirus, taking the tally to 155. (Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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